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THE WAR TO SAVE THE U.N. CHARTER AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.
1) Christian Esch, “Versprechungen helfen nicht auf dem Schlachtfeld; Am Donnerstag reist Olaf Scholz endlich nach Kiew. Was erwartet die ukrainische Regierung vom Bundeskanzler? Ein Gespräch mit Selenskyj-Berater Mychajlo Podoljak. Ein Interview von Christian Esch,” Der Spiegel, den 15. Juni 2022 (15.10 Uhr);
2) “Ukraine War, April 28, 2022 (II): The cost of delay–heavy weapons may not reach the front in time,” The Trenchant Observer, April 28, 2022;
3) Liz Sly, “Estonian leader urges faster help for Ukraine amid signs of war fatigue,” Washington Post, June 16, 2022 (11:30 a.m. EDT);
4) Christoph B. Schiltz, Nikolaus Doll, Claus Christian Malzahn, “Werden Scholz und Co. Selenskyj jetzt zu Verhandlungen zwingen?” Die Welt, den 16. Juni 2022;
5) Christoph B. Schiltz, “Die Troika der Realpolitiker hatte für Selenskyj nicht nur Freundlichkeiten,” Die Welt, den 17. Juni 2022 (07:47 Uhr);
What the Ukraine needs is not promises of future weapons deliveries, but long-range artillery pieces and ammunition, and other munitions, actually deployed on the front lines in the Donbas where the battle is raging.
Short-sighted political leaders like Ėdouard Duvalier of France and Neville Chamberlain of Britain sought to maintain “peace in our time” by making territorial concessions to Adolf Hitler in the infamous Munich Pact in September 1938. That agreement was also endorsed by Italy’s leader and Hitler’s ally, Benuto Mussolini.
Duvalier and Chamberlain may not have understood how making territorial concessions (which were not even theirs to make) would undermine the entire international legal order upon which the peace of Europe was built.
Now Olaf Scholz of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France and Mario Draghi of Italy are considering making territorial concessions (which are not even theirs to make) to Vladimir Putin of Russia, and pressuring Ukraine to sccept such “concessions” in order to restore “peace in our time”.
As Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has wryly suggested, why don’t they give up their own territories? Sly quotes her as follows:
“I worry that we hear calls for peace negotiations, which very generally means Ukraine should give away some of its territory,” Kallas said. “The big question has to be why Ukraine has to give up territory. Maybe those who want to push them into a peace negotiation should give up their own territories.”
The parallels with Munich are extraordinary.
In 1938, Hitler threatened military invasion of Czechoslovakia to seize the German-speaking Sudetenland.
In 2014, Putin actually invaded Ukraine to seize the Crimea and parts of the Russian-speaking provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, installing puppet governments in the portions of these provinces he controlled.
In 2014, Germany and France agreed to the status quo in the Donbas, in exchange for a “peace process” established under the Minsk I Protocol on September 5, 2014 and the Minsk II Agreement of February 12, 2015.
Under the “peace” that followed these mini-Munich agreements, Germany continued to deepen its dependence on Russian gas, and everyone believed that “business as usual” with Russia could proceed.
On September 1, 1939, Hitler and Germany invaded Poland.
On February 24, 2022, Putin and Russia invaded Ukraine.
In 1939, England and France forced Czechoslovakia to accept the cession of the Sudetenland to Germany.
Now, Germany and France and Italy appear to be considering forcing Ukraine to cede its territories to Russia.
In 1939, the leverage of France and Britain on Czechoslovakia was their willingness to defend Czechoslovakia against Germany.
In 2022, the leverage of France and Germany (and their NATO partners) over Ukraine is their willingness to provide heavy weapons in the numbers and time frames required to resist Russian forces.
Germany has already exercised this pressure by failing to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine as promised. France has not delivered much military aid, though recently it has promised to do so.
The greatest flaw in the approach of U.S. and NATO countries to countering Russian aggression has been a fundamental failure to grasp that what is at stake is not only the future of Ukraine, but also the future of the United Nations Charter and international law.
This is the same mistake Daladier and Chamberlain made at Munich in 1938.
What has changed since 1938 is that the legal principles upholding the international order have been firmly and more explicitly established in the U.N. Charter and international law.
First, agreements secured through the illegal use of force are void under international law and have no legal effect.
Second, territorial gains acquired by military conquest may not be recognized and have no legal effect under international law.
Both of these principles are part of a kind of super-law known as jus cogens or peremptory norms of international law from which there can be no exceptions, not even by agreement.
Before Scholz and Macron and other leaders give further thought to trading territorial “concessions” by Ukraine in exchange for the promises of a know liarn and war criminal like Vladimir Putin, they should reflect long and hard on what is at stake in what is, essentially, a war to save the U.N. Charter and international law.
As Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has suggested, if they want to make territorial concessions they should consider which of their own territories they would be willing to cede to Russia in exchange for “peace in our time”
The Trenchant Observer
Only force can stop Putin
“Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2922 .
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