Forbes describes reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin are working on “a closed-door peace plan” that would recognize Russian annexation of the Crimea in exchange for securing the border between Russia and the Ukraine. According to Forbes,
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin are reportedly working on a closed-door peace plan that involves securing the border and acceptance of Russia’s March 17 annexation of Crimea, a former Ukrainian autonomous region in the Black Sea. Germany is keen on ending this ordeal. Russia supplies 40% of Germany’s imported natural gas.
–“How The Ukraine-Russia Crisis Might End,” Forbes, August 5, 2014 (4:23PM).
If there is any substance to the reports, Merkel would be well-advised to bring in her international lawyers from the foreign ministry, who might be able to educate her regarding the fact that any such agreement, to recognize the acquisition of territory acquired by the illegal use of force in violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, would be null and void under the international law principle of jus cogens.
Jus cogens is mandatory or peremptory law, from which there can be no derogation by agreement. It is universally recognized that Article 2(4) is a norm of jus cogens under international law.
On a political level, it is distressing in the extreme that due to President Barack Obama’s inability to lead the Atlantic Alliance, Merkel and other European leaders feel free to engage in free-lancing by negotiating directly with the aggressor, Vladimir Putin, instead of adopting a united front among NATO, the EU, the U.S., and other allies.
The results are clear to see.
So far, Putin has been able to achieve his objectives in pursuit of policies characterized by xenophobic nationalism and aggression, war propaganda in the mold of the Third Reich and Joseph Stalin, and the coordination of thugs, mercenaries and irregular Russian forces in the eastern Ukraine who have systematically violated the fundamental human rights of the inhabitants of the region.
If Merkel thinks she can cut a deal with Putin that recognizes the military invasion and annexation of the Crimea, she had better study some basic principles of international law before proceeding further. She might also reflect on the fact that Article 25 of the German Grundgesetz or Constitution requires Germany to comply with norms of customary and general international law, including jus cogens norms.
The Trenchant Observer
Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
El Observador Incisivo