Ukraine War, September 15, 2022 (II): The “red lines” are in the U.N. Charter, Mr. Putin, not in the threats of a war criminal who has committed the crime of aggression

em>Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates

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) “Russia warns US not to provide longer-range missiles to Ukraine; Russia’s foreign ministry says if the US sends Ukraine longer-range missiles, then it would become a ‘party to conflict,'” Al Jazeera (English), September 15, 2022;

2) “Ukraine: Putin’s “red lines” and the “red lines” of the U.N. Charter and international law,” The Trenchant Observer, December 21, 2021;


Vladimir Putin has been adept in using his “red lines” to strike fear into the hearts of Joe Biden and Western leaders that he will be provoked (e.g., to use nuclear weapons) if they are crossed.

It is vitally important for the victory of Ukraine and the West in their war of self-defense against Russian aggression that Putin’s latest threats be ignored.

Ukraine has an absolute right to strike targets in Russia from which armed attacks are being launched against its cities and territory.

The “inherent right” of individual and collective self-dense is a fundamental norm of international law which is also guaranteed by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

The “red lines” are the prohibition of the use of force in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, and the right of individual and collective self-defense in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

Any attack against a state exercising the right of individual or collective self-defense is itself a violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the Charter.

Putin’s “red lines” are no more than threats made by a war criminal directing a war of aggression against Ukraine.

What Putin is saying is merely that he may be provoked to escalate his illegal use of force if Ukraine tries to defend iself, e.g., by sending missiles to knock out missile batteries in Russia that are launching attacks against Ukrainian cities and territory.

It is time for the United States and NATO countries to stand up to Putin and defend the real “red lines” that are contained in the U.N. Charter.

Putin is on weak ground here, as the overwhelming majority of countries in the world support these “red lines”.

The U.S. and the West should relax their restrictions on the type of weapons and their use that may be supplied to Ukraine for its self-defense.

If Putin escalates and uses a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the U.S. and NATO countries should intervene with conventional military forces against Russian forces in Ukraine, in exercise of their right of collective self-defense.

Real “red lines” like the “red lines” in the U.N. Charter are important and must be defended.

They are the “red lines” of the entire international community, including China, not the arbitrary threats of a war criminal committing the crime of aggression.

See Xi Jinping’s statement of support of Kazakhstan on September 15.

The Trenchant Observer


A selection of the best articles from The Trenchant Observer is published on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday in the Trenchant Observations newsletter on Substack.

You may subscribe here,

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.