Do not believe that a rapid accession of Ukraine to NATO (which also collides with the obstacle of unanimity) will serve to soften the hostilities: if anything it exacerbates them, because it is an equal and opposite response to that of annexation to Russia. of the new regions, ratified yesterday by the Duma. At this point it is necessary to hope that the possible, desirable confrontation will be on the new status quo, because the alternative – the use of nuclear weapons – would be a defeat without appeal for all.
“I exclude that Putin thinks of leaving Donbass, even if I believe that the intention to end the war is real,” he told the Subsidiary Pasquale De Sena, full professor of international law at the University of Palermo and president of the Italian Society of International Law. It is not as clear whether the same is true on the American side, and above all at what price.
After the referendums and the new annexations, are we facing a new phase of the conflict?
There is no doubt, first of all because the most recent version of the Russian military doctrine of 2020 expressly speaks of the use of tactical nuclear weapons; in response not only to the use of similar weapons against Russia, but also to conventional military actions capable of threatening the very existence of the Russian state.
State that today also includes the illegitimately annexed territories.
Exactly. With the annexation – certainly internationally illegitimate – of the Donbass territories under Russian control, the latter have become, from the Russian point of view, Russian territory. Thus Russia has pre-established the condition for using nuclear weapons, precisely for what I have just said. In addition, the Duma ratified the annexation treaties. The qualified majority provided for by the constitutional laws, with which the annexation was voted, is the expression of a broad consensus, which goes beyond Putin’s party. It is therefore very unlikely that this vote will be reversed in the short to medium term. This introduces an unequivocal factual element that, objectively, was not present before.
What does this lead us to conclude?
It is difficult to predict whether the Western strategy will change and in which direction. But it is clear that any peace initiative cannot fail to take into account what has just been said, which constitutes a very serious obstacle, especially if one thinks of bringing the situation back into line with the principles of international law concerning the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
In your opinion, what does the Kremlin want right now?
I exclude that Putin is thinking of leaving Donbass, even if I believe that the intention to end the war is real. The losses suffered by the Russians were too high. It is very difficult to go back, also given the broad parliamentary consensus I mentioned.
On Friday Zelensky responded to Putin by signing an application for NATO membership. What value can it have in these conditions?
From a political point of view, it seems to me an initiative equal and opposite to Putin’s annexations, due to which the principles of the Russian strategic doctrine relating to the Russian national territory have become extensible to the Donbass. In short, politically, it has raised the prospect that any Russian action against Ukraine could become susceptible to an immediate reaction by the Atlantic Alliance, with the eventual accession of Ukraine to the latter.
However, it must be said that over the weekend Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to the US president, said that it is not the time to talk about Ukraine’s entry into NATO.
It is a significant statement, because it shows, in my opinion, that the US continues to have no intention of sending American soldiers to die in Europe, which would probably happen if the conditions were created for direct military action by NATO.
Better to use the Ukrainians?
Evidently, things are fine for the United States, also because, objectively, the benefits they are reaping from the war are greater than the costs it entails for them (essentially the shipment of weapons). However, we must not forget Stoltenberg’s declaration either. The NATO secretary general stressed that unanimity is required for NATO membership. It was known, of course, but in saying so, he did not, in principle, exclude it.
Could Kiev join the Alliance even if Ukraine is at war?
The fact that an armed conflict is in progress is more of a political impediment than a legal one. It does not seem to me that legal obstacles can be drawn from Article 1 of the Atlantic Pact.
There is another interesting fact: Zelensky also said that NATO membership must be made de facto adhesion de jure. Does this not mean that the accession was already operating in unsuspected times, that is, before the invasion, even before the Maidan?
This is a very important aspect. Beyond the first forms of cooperation, which began in 1991 when Ukraine became independent, Ukraine’s accession process to NATO began de jure in 2008. In 2009, the NATO-Ukraine Commission, established in the late 1990s , “Oversaw the Euro-Atlantic integration process of Ukraine”. After the parenthesis of the Maidan and the coup d’état, Ukraine’s entry into NATO – as well as EU accession – became current again, and ended up being included in the Constitution by the Kiev parliament, in February 2019. . The following year, the National Security Strategy of Ukraine document was adopted, approved by decree of the President of the Republic on 14 September 2020. It provides for the “development of a special partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with the goal of obtaining full membership of Ukraine in NATO ”. This process objectively received further impetus in Brussels at some point in the declaration of the heads of state and government at the conclusion of the NATO summit on June 14, 2021.
In the UN Security Council, the Russian veto blocked a resolution condemning the referendums. India and China abstained. What does this episode tell us?
It seems to me that China and India – unlike what the Western media have been trying to make believe in recent weeks, and especially after the Samarkand summit – have not changed their strategy. This is all the more true, if we consider that in his speech in the Security Council, the Chinese representative, despite China’s concerns for the territorial integrity of Taiwan (which is to be considered part of the Chinese territory), did not fail to point out that the Ukrainian crisis does not stem from Russian aggression, but from a long series of previous events.
In his Friday speech Putin said that Russia “is leading a world anti-colonial revolution”, confirming his analysis of March 2, according to which Russian aggression should be considered the expression of a counter-hegemonic attempt. Is it still possible to bring the events back into the context of international law and orderly relations between states?
Unfortunately I don’t think so. When a conflict is anti-systemic it is very difficult for it to be resolved with recourse to the rules of the contested system. Save the hypothesis of a landslide victory over the state that hired him or that of a change of regime that brings the latter back into the normal functioning of the disputed legal system. Neither hypothesis seems to me, however, at least at this moment, particularly plausible.
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor for 16 years, said that it is necessary “to work on a common European security architecture with the participation of Russia”. What do you see in these words?
I believe that Merkel is clear that the embrace of the United States is certainly not an embrace… particularly affectionate, neither for Germany, nor for Europe as a whole.
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