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UKRAINE: 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) Lluís Bassets, “El lenguaje que Putin entiende; Hasta la cumbre de Madrid, los europeos no habían conseguido hablarle al líder ruso con una sola voz y sin vacilaciones en el idioma de la fuerza,” El País, el 01 de julio 2022 (23:40 EDT);
2) Lluís Bassets, “The language that Putin understands; Until the Madrid summit, Europeans had not been able to speak to the Russian leader with one voice and without hesitation in the language of force,” (English translation from website), El País, el 01 de julio 2022 (11:40 pm);
3) “Ukraine War, March 31, 2022 (II): The war strategy of the West in perspective,” The Trenchant Observer, March 31, 2022;
There have been calls for NATO warships to escort ships transporting Ukrainian grain from Odessa, in order to break the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and reduce the risk of famine in African and other countries.
The idea seems promising until you take international law considerations into account.
Turkey will not authorize the transit of warships into the Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux Convention, which is helping Ukraine by blocking passage of additional Russian warships into the Black Sea. If Turkey dropped the ban for NATO warships, it could weaken the ban on the passage of Russian warships.
The only solution to the blockade I see as possible would be a U.N. sponsored convoy authorized by a Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.
The Russians might be prevailed upon by countries from Africa and the Middle East to abstain.
Such a resolution could in theory, under Chapter VII, override the Montreux Convention and allow for some kind of military escort to avoid the mines and prevent any attacks. A slender possibility perhaps, but I see no other. I’m afraid rail shipment won’t get the grain out in time.
The sanctions are not producing the crippling effects on the Russian economy that had been anticipated, largely due to Russia’s increased revenues from the sale of oil and Europe’s continuing purchases of Russian gas.
German politicians, for example, seem more worried about having to ration energy for home heating than they are about the defeats being suffered by the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas, and the loss of 100-200 soldiers being killed every day.
One solution to strengthening the sanctions would entail a faster weaning of European countries off Russian gas, and the imposition of an Iran-type oil embargo, including secondary sanctions.
It was disappointing to see Germany piggyback on Hungary’s claim for an exception to the EU’s recent oil embargo so they could keep receiving oil through a pipeline from Russia. The sanction might have been tailored more narrowly to meet Hungary’s particular needs.
The whole idea of price caps for Russian oil strikes me as utterly unrealistic, however appealing it may be to a first-year Harvard Business School student as a theoretical matter.
The next decision point I see, if Ukraine over time is losing the war, would be for NATO countries to modify their restrictions on Ukrainian use of the weapons they supply.
The U.S. and NATO countries should simply take the position that Ukraine can only use the weapons it receives in accordance with the U.N. Charter and international law.
Such a change would allow Ukraine to defend itself against Russian rocket attacks launched from bases within Russia.
To be sure, such a change could lead to attacks that would cross Putin’s red line of not allowing attacks on Russian territory. Still, the policy would be totally legitimate under the U.N. Charter and international law.
The U.S. and NATO countries could simply state that they are furnishing weapons to Ukraine to be used in exercise of the inherent right of self-defense guaranteed by Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.
Such a change in policy would undoubtedly “provoke” Putin. But if I am correct about the stakes in this war, the confrontation with Russia may come down to such a change in policy.
War and even supporting one side in a war of self-defense, and here of defense of the U.N. Charter and our civilization, is not without risks.
Nor is defeat.
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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