National Interest and International Law: a Case Study of Russia’s Annexation of Crimea

By Ozeh Cornelius

CHAPTER ONE
Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study
What began as a domestic political crisis in Ukraine in February 2014, within a matter of months, assumed a global dimension with implications for the global political order that emerged after collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. A startled world has watched Ukraine’s political crisis unfold as demonstrators took over Kiev’s Independence Square and forced Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych from office (and from the country). Then events became international with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the eruption of separatist insurgencies in Russian-speaking regions of Eastern Ukraine (Yekelchyk 2014)
Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine with its own parliament and laws that permit the use of the Russian language in everyday life and empower local representatives to levy taxes (McMahon, 2014). This autonomy and the pro Russian stance of the peninsula are largely rooted in history (Lee 2014).  
Following the latest Euromaidan protests which is “frequently been portrayed as a battle between the pro-European West and the pro-Russian East” in Ukraine (Taylor 2014), Crimea’s referendum on March 16, 2014 to join Russia was backed by 97% of the votes (BBC News, September 9, 2014). 
Thereafter, Russian President, Vladimir Putin signed a law completing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation as two administrative districts, Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol (NBC News, March 21, 2014). 
Western leaders and the new regime in Kiev rejected the move claiming Moscow’s move was an illegal land grab. They sanctioned Russian officials and Moscow returned same in response (Ibid.). "It's not because Crimea has a strategic importance in the Black Sea region. It's because this has elements of historical justice. I believe we did the right thing and I don't regret anything," the RIA news agency quoted Putin as saying in the documentary (Taylor, op. cit.).
The crisis raged on as the conflicting parties continued to lay claims on justice and refused to shift grounds and strike a compromise. The claims to saintliness by the parties to the conflict threw up the problem stated below.

   
1.2 Statement of the Problem
As the Russian-Ukrainian crisis continued, scholars, analysts, politicians and the students of international relations are divided on the motive and legality of the annexation of Crimea by Russia. On one side of the divide are people who believed as Putin has stressed, Moscow is not imposing its will, but rather, supporting the free choice of the local population, drawing parallels with the support Western states gave to Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia (McMahon 2014). Russia has also rejected charges that it is violating international law and has called for Ukraine to return to the terms of the February 21, 2014 agreement between opposition leaders and Yanukovych that permitted him to stay in office as the head of a national unity government while elections were planned (Ibid.).
Appleton (n.d) was among the people coming from the opposing divide when he wrote: 
The referendum held by the people of Crimea on March 16 may have seen the local population vote to join Russia, but it provides no justification for the annexation of the province under international law.
According to Robert Volterra quoted in Appleton (Ibid.):
Under Article 2 of the UN Charter the forceful acquisition of territory is illegal. This is clearly happened in relation to Crimea. It doesn’t matter what the result of the so-called referendum was, or what the will of the Crimean people may have been. Russia used force against the territorial integrity of Ukraine. That cannot be retrospectively legitimized.
The former divide which believed that Moscow was not imposing her will on Kiev, by extension finds no ulterior motive behind the annexation of Crimea by Russia but a mere humanitarian intervention by a ‘benevolent hegemon,’ while the latter finds the Esau’s hand of Russia’s national interest in which protection of strategic and economic and socio-political interests featured prominently.
Against this backdrop, determining the extent to which Russia’s national interest informed their action in Ukraine; and also the extent to which the action violated extant international laws “including the nonintervention provisions in the UN Charter; the 1997 Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, which requires Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity; and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. That document states: “The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine,” (McMahon op. cit.) become imperative. Therefore, the study focuses on whether Russia was right or not under international law in her annexation of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine.


1.3     Research Questions
Based on the issues discussed above, this study seeks to answer the following questions:
To what extent did Russia’s national interest informed her annexation of Crimean peninsula of Ukraine?
Is Russia right under international law in her annexation of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine?


1.4     Research Objectives       
1. To investigate the extent to which Russia’s national interest informed the Russia’s annexation of Crimean peninsula of Ukraine.
2. To ascertain whether Russia was right under extant international laws in her annexation of Crimea.
3. To trace the historical background of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
4. To analyze the crisis and advise state actors in the crisis accordingly.  


1.5 Justifications of the Research
This study is important as it subjects Russia’s annexation of Crimea to scrutiny in order to come out with the real explanation as against the claim by Russia. To some, the claims are nothing but propaganda and half truths by the officials of Russia and Ukraine which only serve governments’ vested interests in the crisis. The umpire stand of the analysis will bring out the facts and set the records right for a deeper comprehension of the crisis.
It will x-ray the extent to which the annexation has violated the nonintervention provisions in the UN Charter; the 1997 Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances; so as to provide possible preventive measures against such future shocks to the stability of the international system.
This study will also enrich the extant literature in international relations in general and the Russia-Ukraine crisis in particular. This will avail students, scholars and analysts with a sound footing in their mosaic of academic ventures in the study area.


1.6 Methodology
The study is basically qualitative. Secondary method of data collection was employed in which rigorous internet search and the analysis of literature and books assessed from libraries were extensively used; newspapers, journals, magazines, periodicals and relevant reports were also used.
Since the data collected were qualitative in nature, the method of analysis adopted was content analysis. Content analysis were of two types; structured and unstructured content analysis; and for the purpose of this research, the researcher adopted the unstructured content analysis which actually entailed subjecting the document data to a rigorous study, linking and describing relationships among concepts, statements, incidents and indicators.


1.7 Limitation of the Study
This study faced a sizable number of limitations which include:
a. The problem of Fund: Ground breaking research is not possible without sufficient funding. This particular research venture was bankrolled by the lean financial pocket of the researcher. Funds are required to access the requisite and relevant data needed to meet research objectives.
b. The nature of the subject of International Law: Law has letters and spirits which could be interpreted either objectively or subjectively. The interpretations of the extant international laws against the Russia’s annexation of Crimea which are examined in this study are prone to such manipulations. Such manipulations if negative will definitely result in a faulty conclusion.
c. There was a glaring need for an onsite research which was not possible due to (a) above; this notwithstanding, the internet and media have been a good and reliable source of data. 


1.8 Scope of the Study
The study is both historical and contemporary in scope. It explores the link between the past, present and the implication of the future development.
The historical lane in the Russian-Ukrainian relations was taken inorder to uncover the antecedents that might have determined the present ding-dong relationship. Prognosis in the study was informed by the fact that the crisis in focus is still ongoing.


1.9 Chapters Outline
Chapter One introduced the study, providing the background to the gone-sour Russian-Ukranian relationship over the Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. The chapter also featured the statement of the problem, the research questions, objectives, justifications, methodology as well as the limitations of the study and its scope, in that order.
Chapter Two, titled the literature review, discussed the origin nature of international law and national interest, referencing scholarly positions that predated this study on the theme. Similarly discussed were the perspectives of both the idealist and realist scholars on the medley of national interest and international law under separate sub-headings. Gaps in the knowledge was thereafter established and discussed.
This chapter also discussed the framework of analysis, realism which aided the analysis and the interpretation of the research data.
Chapter Three was largely historical, investigating the past with the sole aim of understanding the present and predicting the future. 
Chapter Four embodied the rigorous analysis of the data already gathered in a bid to addressing the research questions and other research objectives. It also discussed the implications of the Russia’s annexation of Crimean peninsula of Ukraine.
Chapter Five summarized the previous chapters and made conclusions and recommendations.


References
Appleton, S. (n.d), “Ukraine: clear breaches of international law in Crimea.” http://www.ibanet.org/Article/Detail.aspx?ArticleUid=0b6a41e4-bca2-4234-8b3e-9cb027b98607
Eagleton, C. (1951), “International Law or National Interest.” The American Journal of International Law  Vol. 45, No. 4, Oct., 1951  American Society of International Law International Law Review 1, no. 1 (1986): 57-65

Kennan, G. (1985-86), Morality and Foreign Policy, 64 Foreign Aff.
Lee, A. (2014), “Ukraine and Russia: A Troubled History.” History Today, Volume 64, Issue 4, April 2014
McMahon, R. (2014), “Background Briefing: What you should know about the Ukraine crisis.” PBS March 7, 2014
Oliver, Covey T. "International Law, Morality, and the National Interest: Comments for a New Journal." American University
Realism, http://media.routledgeweb.com/pdf/9781408204887/realism_chpt.pdf; accessed, October 7, 2014
Rourke, J.T. (n.d) International Politics on the World Stage,http://jeffreyfields.net
Taylor, A. (2014), “To understand Crimea, take a look back at its complicated history.” The Washington Post, 27 February, 2014
Waltz, K. (1979), “Theory of International Politics, Reading.” MA: Addison-Wesley 
Yekelchyk, S. (2014), “The Ukrainian Crisis: In Russia's Long Shadow.” Origins; vol. 7, issue 9 - June 2014

Online Newspapers
NBC News, March 21, 2014
BBC News, 9 September, 2014


CHAPTER TWO
Literature Review and Theoretical Framework


2.1 Origin and Nature of International Law
In its narrowest sense, “international law” refers to laws applicable between “states. International law thus comprises legal obligations to which states have consented in order to regulate the interactions between them (Am. Soc’y Int’l L. 2014). International law from the foregoing regulates the actions, inactions and interactions between and among states only by their consent. It is a freely entered agreement and not a command of an uncommanded commander. It is not handed down by a sovereign rather it is a product of a mutual agreement. International law is also the self-constituting of all-humanity through law. It is the actualizing through law of the common interest of international society, the society of all societies. The legal relations of international law organize the potential willing and acting of all human beings and all human societies, including the forms of society known as 'states' (Allot 1999). It is simply, according to Vinopal (2013), the law between sovereign nation-states, hereinafter, states, especially within the context of the laws of war, peace and security, and protection of territories. International law is largely but not altogether concerned with relations between states…  (Ikedinma 2008). Goldstein (2003) recognized the anti-realist stance of international law when he stated its central role in the international system. According to him, international laws create principles for governing international relations that compete with the core realist principles of sovereignty and anarchy. International law, unlike national laws, derives not from actions of a legislative branch or other central authority, but from tradition and agreements signed by states. It also differs in the difficulty of enforcement, which depends not on power and authority of central government but on reciprocity, collective action, and international norms, (Byers 2000). McKeever (2003) contended that international law consists of rules and principles of general application dealing with the conduct of states and of international organizations and with their relations inter se, as well as with some of their relations with persons, whether natural or judicial.
The origin of international law according to Koskenniemi (2009) was traceable to the writings of the Spanish theologians of the 16th century, especially the so-called “School of Salamanca”, who were reacting to the news of Columbus having found not only a new continent but a new population, living in conditions unknown to Europeans and having never heard the gospel. Names such as Francisco de Vitoria (c.1492 – 1546) were well-known to the international law historians. Contrarily, for a long time, international lawyers used to draw their pedigree from the Dutch Protestant Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) who wrote as advocate of the Dutch East-India company in favour of opening the seas to Dutch commerce against the Spanish-Portuguese monopoly. Still in the 18th and 19th centuries, the law of nations –ius gentium – was seen as a predominantly Protestant discipline that drew its inspiration from the natural law taught by such followers of Grotius as the Saxon Samuel Pufendorf (1632-1694) and the Swiss Huguenot Emer de Vattel (1714-1767), followed by a series of professors at 18th century German universities. The Spaniards were credited with the origin of the modern international law as they adopted from Aquinas the old Roman law notion of ius gentium and through it had managed to construct a legal world that seemed astonishingly familiar for late-19th century observers.

International law devotes a great deal of attention to its sources. Indeed, doctrine and commentary about what are and what are not the sources of international law are so well developed that further commentary seems unnecessary. The discussion usually revolves around the four classic sources contained in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (Kennedy, 1987)). According to the Article 38 in (ibid.):

1. The Court, whose function it is to decide in accordance with international law such disputes as are submitted to it, shall apply: a. international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states; b. international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law; c. the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations; d. subject to the provisions of Article 59, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law. 
2. This provision shall not prejudice the power of the Court to decide a case ex aequo et bono, if the parties agree thereto.

Bailliet (2010) was guided by the Article 38 when he outlined the sources of international law as treaties and conventions; international custom; general principles of law; subsidiary sources of judicial decisions and legal teachings; he included however, unilateral acts of State, such as recognition; and resolutions of International Organizations as sources international law too. 

The mechanisms for enforcing international agreements are typically weak. Enforcement therefore is a fundamental challenge for international law. Sanctions are costly to impose, difficult to coordinate, and often ineffective at accomplishing their goals; rewards are likewise costly and domestically unpopular (Bradford and Ben-Shahar 2012). Nations obey international law, among other things just to appear civilized or in reciprocity or its expectation. This explained why countries could flout international law whenever it was in their interest to do so. One might then ask: what is national interest?

2.2 Origin and Nature of National Interest
The concept of national interest is what the term manifestly indicates, namely, those interests/values that are by the nation. National interest traced its roots at least back to the pessimistic realism of Machiavelli in the 15th century (Meinecke 1957; Butterfield, 1956). As such, it represented a repudiation of earlier Western sources in Hellenic idealism, Judeo-Christian biblical morality, and the teachings of medieval churchmen such as Thomas Aquinas (Roskin, 1994). The intellectual hegemony of realpolitik in nineteenth-century European diplomatic thought, if not practice (Schroeder 1994 in Welch n.d), pulled the phrase "the national interest" into what we might now call the realist orbit, where it took on strong power-political connotations. It caught on in the interwar period in the United States, where it enjoyed hegemony ever since (Peffer 1945 in Welch n.d). 

In modern political life, “national interest” has become a common term among politicians and political scientists. In nearly every discussion about changing foreign policy, national interests are treated as accepted facts to support scholars or politicians when they present opinions. But there is no accepted common standard or definition of the concept of national interest, so the understanding of the role or meaning of national interest is totally different from one user of the term to another. Palmer & Perkins (2007) in Ikedimma (n.d.) from their standpoint viewed national interest as the reflection of “the general and continuing ends for which a nation acts”. The Treaty of Westphalia brought into being the European state system which subsequently became globalized, especially since the end of the Second World War, and particularly since the end of the Cold War in 1989. The Treaty established the fact that the raison d’etre of any government or ruler is the “maintenance and defence of the interests of the sovereign territorial state,” (Ikedimma n.d.). "As long as the world is politically organized into nations," the necessary element of the national interest, that is, the survival, is "the last word in world politics (Morgenthau 1952). In a world consisting of many competing and opposing nations for power, their survivals are their necessary and minimum requisites. "Thus all nations do what they cannot help but do: protect their physical, political and cultural identity against encroachments by other nations (ibid.).  Mongenthau (1989) argues that national interest aims to promote a nation’s image, prestige and respect both at home and abroad. Chandra in Ake (1982) has identified what constitutes the core of national interest to include: national security, political independence, territorial integrity, promotion of economic interests of the nation and world peace. Inherent in the above perception is the ardent desire by nations to secure and maintain political independence, secure its territory and project its economic interest to enhance the standard of living of its citizens and the maintenance of national integrity, territorial integrity and self-respect. National interest can therefore be viewed as the ideal goals upon which the domestic and foreign policies of a state are hinged (Amoda, 1988). Kennedy (1963) was direct thus: “every nation determines its policies in terms of its interests.” George Washington in a speech he made in 1787 (as cited by Fritzpatrick, 1933) was convinced that “nations as well as individuals, act for their own benefit and not for the benefit of others, unless both interests happen to be assimilated.” The concept of national interest therefore, has continued to play a significant role in the foreign policies of sovereign state. A state foreign policy is not operated in a vacuum. The main policy instrument in the conduct of foreign policy is invariably the promotion and pursuit of national interest. Thus, national interest can further be illustrated to mean the totality or the aggregate of interests of individuals and groups within a given nation state (Amoda, 1988). Viewed from its classical perspective, national interest encompasses the various strategies employed in the international interactions of states in order to ensure the preservation of the stated goals of society. Broadly conceived, national interest is a guide to the formulation of foreign policy. It is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Jutta Weldes argues that ‘the national interest’ is important to international politics in two ways. First, it is through the concept of the national interest that policymakers understand the goals to be pursued by a state’s foreign policy. It thus in practice forms the basis for state action. Second, it functions as a rhetorical device through which the legitimacy of and political support for state action is generated. The ‘national interest’ thus has considerable power in that it helps to constitute as important and to legitimize the actions taken by states. (Weldes 1996, p. 276).
 National interests vary. They can be classified into various types according to different standards. Every state, notwithstanding, the size, developed or developing, and even superpower or weak at one time or the other promotes a variety of objectives or goals at the international system. These activities by the states most of the times bring these states into conflict with one another in a bid by the actors to achieve their objectives at the detriments of others. These interests according to Ikedimma (op. cit.) can be categorized into the following:
• Core or Vital interests
• Secondary or Variable interests
• Complimentary interest.

However, based on content national interests can be classified into political interests, security interests, economic interests, and cultural interests; based on the time span for attaining an interest, national interests can be divided into constant interests and variable interests; based on importance, national interests can be divided into vital interests, extremely important interests, just important interests and less important interests; and based on the scope of an interest, national interests can be divided into universal interests, partial interests and individual interests. National interests can also be classified into common versus conflicting interests, .according to the nature of the interest (mercury.ethz.ch/serviceengine/Files/ISN/145308/...6f84.../ch1.pdf). Wolfers (1962) must have made his own classification based on scope when he classified national interests as possessive and milieu goals. Wolfers (1962) referred to as possession goals are immutable aspects of national interest. Wolfers used possession goals in contradistinction to milieu goals which, while related to states interest are essentially concerned with the wider international environment.




2.3   National Interest and International Law: The Realists’ Perspective
The realists are in favour of national interest in their argument. They stressed that international law is too legalistic and moralistic that any national interest pursued under its umbrella is bound to fail.
Eagleton (1951) wrote, quoting Hans J. Morgenthau that toed the line of thought above thus:
‘Professor Morgenthau writes In Defense of National Interest and regards the interest of the nation as superior to anything else. He appears to regard the pursuit of accepted moral principle as in itself immoral: “a foreign policy guided by moral abstractions, without consideration of the national interest is bound to fail”; “the appeal to moral principles in the international sphere has no concrete universal meaning” (pp. 33-35). 
It is “an iron law of international politics, that legal obligation must yield to the national interest “(pp. 144); and the only alternative roads to peace is war or negotiation.’
Morgenthau (1948) outline what constitutes the national interests, and which must be pursued without regard to any international code of conduct. According to him,
“The interest of the national society for which government has to concern itself are basically those of its military security, the integrity of its political life and the well being of its people.” 
The realist doctrine of raison d’etat (reason of state) holds that “where international relations are concerned, the interests of the state predominate over all other interests and values,” (Haslam 2002); and that “the universal moral principles cannot be applied actions of states,” (Morgenthau, 1948). The realists repudiated international law and its moral prescriptions insisting that a good statesman must “learn to be able not to be good… (Machiavelli 1985); or risk destruction (Mearsheimer 1995).
Morgenthau however admitted an exception, a Hobson’s choice of a sort where morality (international law) is considered in the pursuit of the national interests. He wrote focusing the United States of America thus:
When we talk about the application of moral standards to foreign policy, therefore, we are not talking about compliance with some clear and generally accepted international code of behaviour. If the policies and actions of the U.S. government are to be made to conform to moral standards, those standards are going to be America's own, founded on traditional American principles, and when their failure to conform has an adverse effect on American interests, as distinct from political tastes, we have every right to complain, and, if necessary, to take retaliatory action.
This position reveals the possibilities of agreement between international law and national interest of a nation; and the George Washington’s speech in 1787 (as cited by Fritzpatrick, 1933) that “nations as well as individuals, act for their own benefit and not for the benefit of others, unless both interests happen to be assimilated,” was thus corroborated.


2.4   National Interest and International Law: Idealists’ perspective
The idealists’ perspective is the obverse side of that of the realists. Their argument is weighty on the side of international law. They harp melodiously on the need for peace and stability in the international arena which can only be achieved with the instrumentality of mutual agreements embodied in the international law. Agreements they believed that since they were freely entered, should be binding (Pacta sunt servanda). 
Oliver (1986) pointed out the threats to the survival of the human species that needs to be checked with the international law by prioritizing the need for the human species survival in typical national interests of a state. In his words,
It might be fair, were this question to be asked to respond: can the species reasonably be expected to survive in any state of civilization if we do not do something soon? (Given) the steadily intensifying threats to survival - now moving rapidly from superpower nuclear adventurism, through the dreadful risks of nuclear proliferation amongst rogue states, to the new horrors resulting from organized violence by overtly non-governmental groups.
“If we recognize the risk of non-survival of the species, is it not fair to ask, what then is needed for survival? Threat-related order-structure, rather than an at-the-instant protective seems essential” (Ibid.)
“The slide to imminent threat of total destruction has been so steep that it is not certain that "mutually assured survival" is even possible. If the urgency and the stark need for it can be made a first charge on humans, then a legal system designed to ensure survival might come just in time, provided nation-state system does not obstruct too much. Such non-obstruction by states urgently requires the conceptualization of state "national interest" to include survival of people and moral support of moderate, threat-effective public order” (Op. Cit.). 
Stating the position of the idealists on national interest and international law, Rourke (2006) in his analysis wrote:
“Liberals (Idealists) also dismiss the realists' warning that pursuing ethical policy often works against the national interest. The wisest course, liberals contend, is for countries to recognize that their national interests and common interests of the world are inextricably tied.”
By this, Rourke believed national interest to be coterminous if not the same with international interest but this is not always the case; some nations are rogues and power hungry, e.g. the Nazi Germany.


2.5   Gaps in the Literature
From the study so far, national interest was painted as possessive, egoistic and selfish while the international law was depicted as mutual and well-meaning. Those views disregarded the glaring selfishness of the so called international law which really represented the wish of an influential state. 
According to article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, the sources of international law include: 
a. international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states; b. international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law; c. the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations; d. subject to the provisions of Article 59, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law. 

The article’s regrettable omission of the national interest of influential nations as one of the sources of international law supports this claim. The place of influence in the formation of international law cannot be over emphasized; thus, the Third world’s prayers that the United Nation’s permanent members should be democratized have not passed into law because they commanded very little influence on the international organization.

2.6   Theoretical Framework of Analysis
This study employed the explanatory capability of Realism in the study of the Russian annexation of the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The choice of the theory was largely informed by its ability to explaining the Russia’s raison d’état, national interest in the annexation – summed as the “struggle for power.”
Political realism or realpolitik is a theory that has several interrelated parts and constructs. The sub-sets include behavioralism, national interest, power politics and balance of power. Realists argue that international politics, like all politics, is a struggle for power (Morgenthau, 1948). They are pessimistic about human nature which they described as “selfish.” They contend that the selfish nature of human beings is reflected in the international arena, a place that they hold to be anarchical, given the fact that there is no overarching authority regulating the inherent selfishness of states. This scenario, they argue makes the international arena conflictual and also a place where the fittest survives.
Realism as an approach to international politics is traced back to such ancient practitioners and thinkers as Sun Tzu (544-496 B.C.), the Chinese general and author of The Art of War; Thucydides (460-399 B.C.), a Greek historian and author of The History of the Peloponnesian War; and Kautilya (4th Century B.C.), minister to the Mauryan emperor of India, who wrote in Arthashastra, "A king shall always endeavour to augment his own power." More recently, realism also marked the diplomacy of such statesmen as Otto von Bismark (1815-1898), the Iron Chancellor, who engineered the unification of Germany under Prussia's control (see Rourke 2006).
The thoughts of Niccolo Machiavelli, a sixteenth-century Italian political thinker, and the seventeenth century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes are also invoked to demonstrate how realism is supposedly founded on age-old wisdom. Machiavelli is famous, or perhaps notorious, for offering practical advice to the statesman which would ensure that they remained in power and achieved their objectives. He proposed a series of guides by which states’ leaders might maximize their power. His advice included the instruction that promises must be broken when there is an interest to do so and that it is better to be feared than loved (see Realism).

The Post World War II realists include Hans Joachim Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz. The former represented the classical realists that had their focus on the states; whereas the later championed the opinion of the neo-realists which criticized the traditional realists for their disregard to the system itself for the units. They argued that the anarchical nature of the international arena explained the behavior of states, the units (Walz 1979). Political realism holds that states’ major driving force in international politics is caused by one or a combination of factors, namely the quest for power; desire to secure or promote national interest, whether economic, political or military; and need to create a power equilibrium for the sake of peace (Morgenthau, 1978). The realist perspective holds that the realization of national interest as an ultimate and indispensable goal by states may not consider the limitations or excesses of the means (Rourke, 2006), an a-moral position that flows from Sun Tzu, Thucydides, Hugo Grotuis, Machiavelli, to Clausewitz, Carr, Morgenthau, Waltz and Holsti.
In summary the assumptions of realism are that:
States are the key actors in international relations.
Sovereignty, or independence and self-control, is the defining characteristic of the state.
States are motivated by a drive for power, security and pursuit of the ‘national interest’.
States, like men, behave in a self-interested manner.
The central problem in international relations is the condition of anarchy, which means the lack of a central sovereign authority at the global level to regulate relations between states.
The aggressive intent of states combined with the lack of world government, means that conflict is an unavoidable and ever-present reality of international relations.
A semblance of order and security can be maintained by shifting alliances among states so preventing any one state from becoming overwhelmingly powerful and, thus, constituting a threat to the peace and security of others.
International institutions and law play a role in international relations, but are only effective if backed by force or effective sanction.
Power is the key to understanding international behaviour and state motivation. For realists the main form of power is military or physical power.
Human nature can be said to be inherently selfish and constant. As a result, humans will act to further their own interests even to the detriment of others, which can often lead to conflict.
Because human nature is unchanging, there is little prospect that this kind of behaviour will change.

This theory will help to understand the Russian expansionist move into Ukraine. It will explain the underpinning selfish interest that necessitated the move; and equally give a practical advice to balancing the threatening power to the Ukrainian territoriality. 




References

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Morgenthau, H. J. (1989), Politics among Nations the Struggle for Power and Peace: (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).

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Oliver, C. T. (1986), "International Law, Morality, and the National Interest: Comments for a New Journal." American University
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Website
mercury.ethz.ch/serviceengine/Files/ISN/145308/...6f84.../ch1.pdf






CHAPTER THREE
Russian-Ukrainian Conflicts in History


3.1. The Pre-Soviet Union Relations
The two neighbouring countries of Russia and Ukraine have been intertwined for over 1,000 years of tumultuous history; both nations traced their roots back to the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus, which stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea from the 9th century to the mid-13th century. This medieval empire was founded, oddly enough, by Vikings (Bates 2014). The men from the north (the Vikings) sought to establish a trade route between the Baltic and Black Seas, and used Kiev, on the Dnieper River, as a trading post. Their arrival coincided with the collapse of an earlier Khazar state, and their leaders soon intermarried with the local Slavic-speaking population; thus arose the entity known as Kievan Rus (Synder 2014) which accepted Christianity in 988 BC. 
Moscow (a part of the Kievan Rus) is first mentioned in the historical Hypatian Chronicle only in 1147 as a stockade on the distant frontier. The true beginning of the Muscovite state is connected to the fall of Kyivan Rus′. After the Mongol invasion beginning in 1237 dealt the final blow to this loose federation of principalities, the princes of Muscovy rose to prominence as the Mongols’ most reliable local agents and soon-to-be challengers (Yekelchyk 2014). After power was shifted to the north to a small Rus trading outpost called Moscow, Kievan Rus territory was carved up by competing powers.  “Beginning in the fourteenth century, the western half of the former Kyivan Rus′ state came under the domination of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later Poland” (ibid.). This area was briefly under the rule of Poland and Lithuania, and was gradually taken piecemeal by Russia by the end of the eighteenth century (McLaughlin 2014). The developing differences between Russians and Ukrainians were sealed by this splitting of the former lands of Kievan Rus′. Their separate group identity persisted, defined in pre-modern and early modern religious or social terms.
During the next century and a half, from 1654 the Russian imperial administration gradually absorbed Ukrainian lands, depriving them of autonomy and cultural specificity. The growing empire of the Romanovs also increased its Ukrainian territories in the west during the partitions of Poland in the late eighteenth century. During the partitions of Poland in the late eighteenth century the westernmost region of Ukraine became part of the Habsburg Austrian Empire. The Habsburg emperors also acquired two smaller Ukrainian-populated areas from the Ottomans and the Hungarian Kingdom. This empire developed the today’s Ukraine identity. The “European” choice of western Ukrainians had far-reaching implications. Not only were they acknowledged as a separate ethnic group by the government in Vienna, but the Austrian Empire also offered them an experience that was totally absent on the Russian side of the border—political participation. Ukrainians in the Habsburg Empire could both develop their culture and acquire a taste for parliamentarism, limited as it was. 
Unlike their Ukrainian brethren to the east, Ukrainian intellectuals in Austria soon developed a clear concept of modern Ukrainian ethnic identity and reached out to the peasantry through a network of reading clubs and schools.
The first independent Ukrainian state was declared in Kiev in 1917, following the collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires at the end of World War I. That independence was short-lived. The new country was invaded by Poland, and fought over by forces loyal to the czar and Moscow's new Bolshevik government, which took power in Russia's 1918 revolution. By the time Ukraine was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922 (Bates 2014).

3.2 Russian-Ukrainian Relations in Soviet Union
The treaty on the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was concluded at the Congress of Soviets of the Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian and Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republics on December 30, 1922 (http://sptnkne.ws/uBz). Inclusive in the Union was the Crimean Tatars which were merely a minor part of the Mongol Empire but by the mid-15th century, they had founded their own state, the Khanate of Crimea, which became an autonomous part of the Ottoman Empire and the main centre for the medieval white slave trade (Hodgeman 2014). Between the 1440s and the early 18th century around a million slaves from what is now Ukraine and south Russia were abducted by the Crimeans and sold to Turkish and Arab buyers across the Middle East. Meanwhile, a thousand miles to the north, the Principality of Moscow (proto-Russia) was beginning to expand. By the mid-16th century it was just a few miles from the Black Sea. Indeed for the next two centuries it was only the power of the Crimean Tatar state that prevented Russia from acquiring a warm water port. Yet as Russian power succeeded in preventing Tatar slave raids, the slave-based economy and the power of the Crimean state began to falter – and in 1783 Russia seized Crimea, built warm water navy and constructed a great port (Sevastopol) to accommodate it (Ibid.).
A Tatar-led attempt to recreate an independent Crimea in the revolutionary chaos of 1917 was crushed by the Red Army – but the final blow came in 1944 when Stalin (angered by some Tatars’ collaboration with the Germans in the Second World War) ordered the deportation to central Asia of the entire Crimean Tatar race. Almost 200,000 were dumped in camps in the arid interior of Soviet Uzbekistan and elsewhere – and at least 40,000 died in the deportation and its aftermath. Tens of thousands of Russians were settled on the land that the Tatars had been forced to vacate. It was at that point that Crimea became an overwhelmingly Russian-populated territory. Its demographic and geographical situation was anomalous. Although it was geographically an extension of Ukraine, demographically and politically it had become Russian. Indeed ever since 1921, it had been part of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (the RSFSR) (Ibid.).
During World War II when the Nazis invaded Ukraine in 1941, many locals welcomed the Germans as liberators from the Soviets, and tens of thousands even fought alongside them, hoping Adolf Hitler would reward them with an independent state. Later, when the Nazis began using Ukrainians as slave labor, about 2.5 million fought for Stalin's Red Army. The country became one of World War II's bloodiest battlefields. At least 5.3 million Ukrainians died during the war — about one sixth of the population. About 2.25 million of those killed were Jews, targeted by both the Nazis and some Ukrainian collaborators. At the end of the war, Stalin deported tens of thousands of Ukrainians accused of cooperating with the Nazis to Siberian prison camps, and executed thousands more (Bates 2014).
Crimea only became part of Ukraine when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the peninsula to his native land in 1954. This hardly mattered until the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 and Crimea ended up in an independent Ukraine (http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.577286). The peninsula had been ruled by Russia for centuries when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev suddenly gifted it to Kiev in 1954. Many Russians think Khrushchev was drunk when he signed the Crimea away, while others believe he was trying to make amends for the Ukrainian famine. The handover remains deeply unpopular with ordinary Russians, 56 percent of whom view Crimea as Russian territory, far more than feel a claim on Chechnya. "Many see Putin as the one who returned some of Russia's strengths,' (Bates op. cit.). The 1991 fall of the Soviet Union also brought the return of the Crimean Tatars, the native hosts of the land that fell to Russia under Catherine the Great in the 18th century. They were brutally deported in 1944 under Stalin. The Crimean Tatars, who now make up about 12 percent of its population, have sided with the anti-Yanukovych protesters in Kiev who drove his government from power (http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.577286). In 1991, more than 90 percent of Ukrainians voted to declare independence from the crumbling Soviet Union. But Russia continued to meddle in the country's affairs (Bates 2014).


3.3 Post Soviet Union Russian-Ukrainian Relations
Ukraine adopted its Declaration of State Sovereignty on July 16, 1990, and the Act of Declaration of Independence on August 24, 1991. On December 1, 1991, President Elect Leonid Kravchuk announced that Kiev was resolutely refusing to accept whatever Union Treaty, whether political or economic. Ukraine and the Russian Federation established diplomatic ties on February 14, 1992. In May 1992, Kiev refused to sign the Collective Security Treaty of the CIS countries and participate in any CIS military alliance whatsoever. In 1993, the Ukrainian leadership refused to go any further than associated membership and did not sign the agreement on the establishment of the Interstate Economic Council, the first CIS supranational agency. It also did not sign the CIS Charter, which boiled down to technical rejection of its membership in the CIS. More contradictions arose in Russian-Ukrainian relations when Kiev came as one of the initiators and active members of the GUAM in 1997. The middle of the first decade of the 21st century found Russian-Ukrainian relations in a profound crisis (http://sptnkne.ws/uBz).

According to Bates (2014), in Ukraine's 2004 presidential election, the Kremlin backed pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych. Massive fraud in that election sparked the Orange Revolution, which kept Yanukovych from power. The failure of subsequent leaders led to Yanukovych's making a comeback in 2010. But after he canceled a trade deal with the European Union, he was driven from office again last month by pro-Western demonstrators. Despite the world's outrage, Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to let Ukraine leave his country's orbit. "Russia without Ukraine is a country," explains Daniel Drezner, an international politics professor at Tufts University. "Russia with Ukraine is an empire."
So-called “gas clashes” of 1993, 2005-2006, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 also impeded Russian-Ukrainian relations. The signing of the Declaration on the Modernization of Ukraine’s Gas Transit System in Brussels by representatives of Ukraine, the European Commission and three transnational banks bypassing Russia was another reason for the deterioration of Russian-Ukrainian relations. In 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev forwarded a message to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, in which he expressed profound concern of the Russian leadership and public over the state and level of Russian-Ukrainian relations, primarily political, due to purposeful actions by the Ukrainian political leadership. Active political dialogue between Russia and Ukraine began in 2010. The Kharkov agreements of April 2010 extend the lease of the Russian naval base in Sevastopol at least until 2042 and stipulate discount exports of Russian natural gas to Ukraine. In July 2010, the Ukrainian prime minister said that the government was conducting negotiations between Ukraine, the European Union and Russia to establish a gas transit consortium.
Basic documents of present-day Russian-Ukrainian relations are as follows: the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership of May 31, 1997 (automatically extended for another decade on October 1, 2008), the Program of Economic Cooperation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine for 2008-2010, and others.


3.4 Crimea at a Glance
The Crimean peninsula, the main flashpoint in Ukraine's crisis, is a pro-Russia part of Ukraine, separated from the rest of the country geographically, historically and politically. It also hosts Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Ukraine has accused Russia of invading it. The Crimean Peninsula extends into the Black Sea, all but an island except for a narrow strip of land in the north connecting it to the mainland. On its eastern shore, a finger of land reaches out almost to Russia. Russia plans to build a bridge across the strait.
With an area of 27,000 square kilometers (10,000 square miles), it is slightly smaller than Belgium. It is Ukraine's only formally autonomous region, with Simferopol as its capital. Sevastopol has a separate status within Ukraine.  
It's best known in the West as the site of the 1945 Yalta Conference, where Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sealed the postwar division of Europe (http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.577286).
3.4.1 Population
Around 2 million; Ukraine's 2001 census showed around 58 percent were ethnic Russian, 24 percent ethnic Ukrainian and 12 percent Tatars, who support the new pro-Western government in Kiev (ibid.).


3.4.2 Economy
Crimea's temperate climate makes it a popular tourist destination for Ukrainians and Russians, especially Yalta, where the Soviet, U.S. and British victors of World War Two met in 1945 to discuss the future shape of Europe.
It accounts for three percent of Ukraine's gross domestic product, with 60 percent of its own output made up by services. The land is intensely farmed, with wheat, corn and sunflowers the main crops. Extra water supplies are brought by canal from Ukraine's Dnieper River.
There are chemical processing plants and iron ore is mined in Kerch. Ukraine has two grain terminals in Crimea - in Kerch and in Sevastopol. According to UkrAgroConsult, these have exported 1.6 million tons of grain so far this season or 6.6 percent of Ukraine's total exports (ibid.). 


3.4.3 The Black Sea Fleet
On Crimea's southern shore sits the port city of Sevastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and its thousands of naval personnel. Russia kept its half of the Soviet fleet, but was rattled in 2009 when the pro-Western Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko warned that it would have to leave the key port by 2017.
Shortly after pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in 2010, he agreed to extend the Russian lease until 2042 in exchange for discounts on Russian gas supplies. Russia fears that Ukraine's new pro-Western government could evict it.
Russia's Black Sea base in Sevastopol gives Moscow access to the Mediterranean. Ukraine's fleet, carved out of the same Soviet fleet as Russia's, is also based there (ibid.). 


3.5 Russia’s Annexation of Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine
Over a month after a revolution in Ukraine's capital overthrew the government, the country's new leaders have watched Russia claim a region for its own, wage an "information war", and mass an estimated 40,000 troops at the border, all while pro-Russian protests have bloomed in eastern cities.
It all started November, 2013 when Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, with his country barreling toward economic catastrophe, faced a choice. He could make a long-term, initially painful deal with the EU to bolster integration and trade, or he could take a $15bn loan from Russia and move his country toward a planned "Eurasian Union", with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. After months of waffling, Yanukovych, who was ousted from office in 2004 over corruption and has a long history with Putin, chose the money.
The decision sparked protests on Kiev's Independence Square, aka the Maidan, and after Yanukovych tried to quash them and assert control, protesters fortified, literally. Thousands joined, especially after fighting with police turned deadly, and the movement gained new purpose: fighting the endemic corruption that Yanukovych's government symbolized. As clashes grew more violent, disparate factions joined, uniting liberals, moderates, technocrats, pro-European and far-right nationalists.
More than 100 people died in the protests, many apparently killed by snipers on Yanukovych's orders, or beaten by the Berkut, the riot police later disbanded and offered Russian passports following the revolution. Eventually, Yanukovych fled to Russia, and a coalition government formed out of the opposition, agreeing to hold new elections on 25 May, 2014.
During the final days of protests, Putin ordered surprise military drills on the border with Ukraine, and at Russia's Black Sea base on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Almost simultaneous to the exercises, armed men in unmarked uniforms, most wearing masks, seized airports and regional government buildings around Crimea. (Though some admitted being Russian, most, and Russia, denied any affiliation and characterized them as "local self-defense groups".)
With armed gunmen surrounding the regional parliament, Crimea, heretofore a part of Ukraine with slightly more independence than other regions, voted in a new government of pro-Russian figures (including a man nicknamed 'Goblin') and decided to hold a referendum on Crimea's future. Russia's parliament authorized deploying troops in Ukraine, should Putin see fit. On the ground, a de facto stealth invasion had already taken place, with Russian-plated vehicles blocking roads, the Russian fleet trapping Ukrainian warships, and pro-Russian forces in tense standoffs around every major Ukrainian base (Yuhas 2014). CBS, March 21, 2014 reported it that in Crimea, heavily armed Russian forces and pro-Russia militia have blocked Ukrainian military at their bases for weeks.
With strong ties to Russia's history and culture, the Crimean peninsula looms large in Russia's national imagination, and has a large ethnic Russian population and significant pro-Russian sentiment. When the referendum rolled around on 16 March – denounced by Ukraine, the US and EU as illegal – officials reported a 97% vote to join Russia. (The referendum was only meant to "confirm" a parliamentary vote to secede, and only had two options: join Russia or enhance Crimea's independence.).
Russian President Vladimir Putin days later signed a bill completing his country's annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula which voted overwhelmingly less than a week earlier to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The price for Russia's takeover of Crimea has been a slowly increasing raft of sanctions from Washington and Europe targeting Russian officials (CBS, March 21, 2014).
In September 2014, Vladimir Putin invited Russia experts from around the world to a conference, held halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. At the gathering, the Russian president delivered a passionate address. "We will never forget that Russia's present-day statehood has its roots in Kiev. It was the cradle of the future, greater Russian nation," Putin said. He added that Russians and Ukrainians have a "shared mentality, shared history and a shared culture. In this sense we are one people."
At the time, German and European leaders still believed that it would be possible to bind Ukraine to the European Union by way of an Association Agreement and to free the country from Moscow's clutches. But Putin had long before made the decision to prevent such an eventuality. Indeed, he had already used the Crimean Peninsula as his stage for a symbolic and vaguely menacing appearance in the summer of 2012. Astride a three-wheel motorcycle, a black-clad Putin was photographed at the head of a group of staunch nationalist bikers. Like a group of modern-day knights, they tore across Ukrainian territory. Even then it was clear who Putin thought was the true leader of Ukraine: himself.
Putin knows that the vast majority of Russians are on his side when it comes to his Crimean policy. His cool and calculated -- and thus far remarkably peaceful -- annexation of the peninsula led to celebrations across Russia. After all, the conviction that Crimea -- with its "Hero Cities" of Sevastopol and Kerch in addition to Russia's Black Sea fleet -- is Russian soil is widespread and shared even by many in the opposition camp. These are places, Putin said in his address last week, that are "dear to our hearts" and for which Russian soldiers fought and died. Even Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev said last week that the West should accept the results of the Crimea referendum (Schepp 2014).
The EU blacklisted 33 Russians and Ukrainians, and US sanctions have fallen on a bank and 31 people, including powerful businessmen such as Gennady Timchenko, of the Gunvor oil group, and the Rotenberg brothers, who grew up with Putin and now own contracting companies worth billions. A number of politicians are also on the list, as is Bank Rossiya, which the US claims holds senior officials' money.
Moscow returned in kind, placing sanctions on US officials, but the list – including John McCain and White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer – was almost purely symbolic. In contrast, the ruble briefly tumbled, Russian markets shuddered, and Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's credit rating. The EU and US have promised Ukraine a $16bn loan as part of an effort to rescue its economy.
The US insists Russia is behaving "in a 19th century fashion" and has deployed "agents" to sow "chaos" in an "incredible act of aggression". The US conceded that Russia has "complete operational control" over Crimea. The Kremlin insists that "radicals", including "anti-Semites, fascists and ultra-nationalists" staged a coup in Kiev – with murky western backing – and now continue to destabilize Ukraine. Moscow continues to say that Crimea's referendum is analogous to Kosovo's independence movement of the 1990s, and that Kiev's illegal government threatens ethnic Russians – whom Putin has vowed to protect.
The Ukrainian government’s official stance, expressed, for example, by newly elected president Petro Poroshenko, is to reunite Crimea with Ukraine. The use of military force to take back control over Crimea was raised as a possibility by some Ukrainian officials, but such an option is very unlikely because it would lead to a war with the much more powerful Russia. By the end of 2014, the Ukrainian government moved to impose a limited blockade of Crimea by suspending train and bus links (Katchanovski 2015).
The Western governments rejected the possibility of using their military forces in Crimea. The US government, and governments of the European Union members and other Western countries, imposed economic and travel sanctions against separatist leaders of Crimea and Russian government officials for the annexation of the region. The sanctions also prohibited or severely restricted work of US and other Western businesses in Crimea. For example, following a new round of the US sanctions, Visa and MasterCard blocked the use of their credit cards in this region in December 2014 (ibid.).
However, the Russian government refused to reverse its annexation of Crimea and to negotiate any deal that would change the status of this region. In the September 2014 elections, the United Russia party of President Putin won 71 per cent of the votes in Crimea. Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar parties and organisations were generally limited or curtailed in their ability to continue functioning, and some of their local leaders and activists were subjected to violence, threats of violence, detention, or expulsion from Crimea (ibid.).

References
Bates, T. (2014). Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history. Accessed 18/06/2015 from http://theweek.com/articles/449691/ukraines-fraught-relationship-russia-brief-history
Hodgeman, C. (2014). Complex Crimea: the history behind the relationship between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. Accessed 18/06/2015 from http://www.historyextra.com/feature/complex-crimea-history-relationship-Russia-Ukraine-Crimea
Katchanovski, I. (2015). Crimea: People and Territory before and after Annexation. Accessed 27/06/2015 from http://www.e-ir.info/2015/03/24/crimea-people-and-territory-before-and-after-annexation/
McLaughlin, L. (2014). The Conflict in Ukraine: a Historical Perspective. Accessed 18/06/2015 from http://www.summer.harvard.edu/blog-news-events/conflict-ukraine-historical-perspective
Schepp, M. (2014), 'Dear to Our Hearts': The Crimean Crisis from the Kremlin's Perspective. Accessed 26/06/2015 from http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-look-at-the-crimea-crisis-from-the-perspective-of-the-kremlin-a-960446.html
Synder, T. (2014). Ukrainian Extremists Will Only Triumph if Russia Invades. Accessed 18/06/2015 from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117395/historic-ukrainian-russian-relations-impact-maidan-revolution
Yekelchyk, S. (2014). “The Ukrainian Crisis: In Russia's Long Shadow.” Origins; vol. 7, issue 9 - June 2014
Yuhas, A. (2014). Ukraine Crisis: an Essential Guide to Everything that's Happened So Far. Accessed 26/06/2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/11/ukraine-russia-crimea-sanctions-us-eu-guide-explainer 

Online Newspaper and Websites
CBS, March 21, 2014
http://sptnkne.ws/uBz
http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.577286 



Chapter Four
National Interest, International Law and Russia’s Annexation of Crimea

4.1 How Russia’s National Interest Informed Her Annexation of Crimea
Assessing the very extent to which Russia’s national interest informed its annexation of Crimea necessitates an identification of Russia’s national interests as they are defined by Russian leaders in Moscow. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to identify Russia’s interests clearly, due to differing perspectives within the Russian elite, Moscow’s less-than-transparent political process, and the Russian government’s tendency to focus on immediate tactical issues at the expense of strategic thinking. These notwithstanding, the Russian leadership according to Allison and Blackwill (2011) appear to consider the following to be among Russia’s principal national interests:

Preventing the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction against Russia and preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons and delivery systems in the post-Soviet space;
Maintaining Russia’s nuclear deterrent capability as a guarantor of Russia’s sovereignty and great power status;
Preventing major terrorist attacks in Russia;
Sustaining Russian influence in the post-Soviet space and denying competing powers or alliances the ability to dominate the post-Soviet space;
Assuring continued revenue flows from Russia’s energy exports and ensuring that other states are not able to exercise leverage over Russia’s energy exports;
Protecting the security and stability of Russia’s current political system, something made more difficult because it does not derive its legitimacy from either tradition or democratic procedures; and, Protecting and advancing the economic interests of major political-business alliances within Russia’s elite.

These items within Russia’s vital interests are consistent with Morgenthau (1948) outline of what constitutes the national interests of a country, and which must be pursued without regard to any international code of conduct. According to him,
The interest of the national society for which government has to concern itself are basically those of its military security, the integrity of its political life and the well being of its people.

The Putin government cares about Ukraine and the Crimea because it is geopolitically critical to Russian interests and security, specifically when it comes to NATO expansion, influencing and shaping Russia’s control over Europe’s energy sector, regional security, and strategic military positioning (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b37_1430841220).
The Crimea is essentially a giant, immovable military fortress at the mouth of some of the most vital transportation routes for Ukraine. It is argued whoever controls this “fort”, controls Ukraine. Russia can interdict the Ukrainian links to the Black Sea easily from its Black Sea naval headquarters in Sevastopol, and its control over the peninsula is secure because the population of Crimea is heavily ethnically Russian and pro-Russian.

Some of these are elements that highlight the geopolitical importance of Crimean peninsula:
It is a control tower located at the confluence of three major geopolitical regions: the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Asia Minor and near to the hot zone of Middle East;
It is a defensive / offensive naval outpost of the Russian Federation closest to NATO;
It controls the bordering countries exit gate to the Ocean Dome;
It is included on the proposed route for Caspian and Central Asia oil and gas transportation to Western consumers;
It is the shortest way for Russia to South and then East (through the Suez Canal) and to the North African coast, as the only way to warm seas;
It provides lots of trade and tourism facilities (ibid.).

"So in the front of illegitimate armed takeover, armed coup that occurred in Kiev one year ago, Russia took a position -- quite understandable one -- but very, very frank, very open and very firm." He added, "The only thing we want is that our national interests, our sovereign rights and sovereign interests ... [are] treated with due respect. As soon as it happens, there will be a time for new renaissance in [our] international relationship" (Krever 2015); Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov -- right-hand man to President Vladimir Putin -- told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview.
Thus the Maidan in Kiev, which George Friedman in (ibid.) describes as "the most blatant coup in history", is viewed by Russia as part of a larger US strategy that involves funding opposition politicians, student activists, information campaigns, etc. to re-orient Governments away from the Russian sphere of influence and into the West's. This is what they call Washington's "Color Revolutions". Russia views this as an aggressive campaign by Washington, which is volatile to Russian national interests - and something which they need to counteract. Likewise, Hahn in Koshkin (2014) argues that:

The problem is really a much more fundamental conflict of interests, with the West trying to maximize its power by expanding NATO and Russia trying to prevent that by blocking Ukraine's re-orientation westward.

What Russia could not tolerate under any circumstances were the efforts by the U.S. to supplant it in its brother Slav nation, Ukraine. And this was not just because of the fear that such a Ukraine would join NATO, whose armed forces would then be at the southwestern borders of Russia. It was (and is) a matter of the deep psychological belief that Ukraine is “ours” and that the Ukrainians are “our people” (Pozner 2014). Official Russia’s view of that country’s national interests has been founded on a triad since Vladimir Putin became President for the first time in 2000. First, it is held that Russia has the right and duty to be a Great Power, with an acknowledged and internationally respected sphere of special interest in the post-Soviet space. As such, second, it is held that the United States is Russia’s natural analogue, with the Russians having the right to be treated as its equal, whether as partner or rival. And, third, Russia must protect itself from outside interference, however loosely defined (Wood 2013). This triad clearly x-rayed the essence of the annexation of Crimean peninsula; therefore, Putin has a very clear view of Russia’s genuine national interests, and reliable access to the Crimean base of the Black Sea fleet is one of them, it has been for centuries, and it will remain so in the future (Scheuer, n.d.). Unequivocally, Putin (2014a) in the annexation speech averred:

Crimea is our common historical legacy and a very important factor in regional stability. And this strategic territory should be part of a strong and stable sovereignty, which today can only be Russian. Otherwise, dear friends (I am addressing both Ukraine and Russia), you and we – the Russians and the Ukrainians – could lose Crimea completely, and that could happen in the near historical perspective. Please think about it.

Let me note too that we have already heard declarations from Kiev about Ukraine soon joining NATO. What would this have meant for Crimea and Sevastopol in the future? It would have meant that NATO’s navy would be right there in this city of Russia’s military glory, and this would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia….

But let me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organisation, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.
It could not have been wise in the name of national interest if Russia had failed to take the action they took in Ukraine because the West pursued their selfish interests of propagation of democracy and the expansion of NATO to the East; even if they meant no harm, which I doubt they did, security dilemma in the international system demanded a reaction from Russia.

4.2 The Legality of the Russia’s Annexation of Crimea under Extant International Laws.
From the perspective of international law, accepting Russia’s “absorption” of Crimea is wholly inconceivable. It would severely, perhaps even fatally, undermine Article 2(4) of the UN Charter and the international legal security architecture as a whole (Geiß 2015). The Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter which provides that:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Other international legal provisions that come under violation was the Articles 1 and 2 of the Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, signed at Budapest, on 5 December 1994, by Ukraine, The United States, the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, and Article 2 of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, executed in Kiev on 31 May 1997). The articles 1 and 2 of the Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons provided that:
1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;
2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

Similarly, article 2 of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation also provided that:
The High Contracting Parties in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and obligations under the final act of the Conference on security and cooperation in Europe respected each other's territorial integrity and reaffirm the inviolability of their borders.
The cardinal law, however, is Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter which prohibited the use of force against the territoriality or the political independence of another state; others alluded to it. In the face of the prohibition of force, there are only two clear instances where the use of force is legal. The first is when the UNSC sanctions the use of force against a State via a resolution with the interest of preserving international peace and security under Articles 39 and 41 of the UN Charter.
 The other, is the inherent right of self-defence, which is enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter it provides that: “nothing … shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”
Having established the relevant laws, there are two aspects of Russia’s actions in Crimea that must be considered. Firstly, there is Russia’s alleged provision of support to the pro-Russian gunmen, this being on the premise that the gunmen were not Russian Special Forces. Secondly, there is the Russian Federation’s soldiers crossing the border into Ukraine and annexing Crimea (Murray n.d).


4.2.1 The Provision of Arms to the Opposition Forces
There is the speculation that Russia supported the pro-Russian gunmen that were operative in Crimea, and that Russia continues to support the separatists in Donetsk. While international law does not prohibit the transfer of arms from one State to another, the legality and permissibility of providing arms to opposition forces, is more dubious. In the Nicaragua case, the ICJ made a distinction in the methods of supporting governmental opposition forces in other States; this distinction being between the provision of weapons and training, and other non-lethal support. The judgment in Nicaragua stated that providing arms or training to opposition groups can constitute a use of force (ibid).
Controversy about certain facts remains, but it is by now—particularly considering that President Putin himself has meanwhile publicly admitted as much—beyond any doubt that Russia forcibly intervened in Crimea in the spring of 2014 (see Putin 2014a). It must also be noted that the authorization to deploy armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine given by the Russian upper house of Parliament, on 1 March 2014, upon the request of President Putin, was characterized by some States as a ‘threat to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine’ (Tancredi 2014). Russia’s provision of arms to opposition forces in Crimea constitutes an aggressive act of sending armed bands, this being due to the pro-Russian gunmen’s contribution to the Russian invasion; thus violating extant international laws binding Russia and Ukraine, such as those discussed above.

4.2.2 The Use of Russian Regulars 
The other aspect to consider is that the Russian armed forces entered Crimea around the February 28, 2014 (Murray n.d.). Notably, there was little combat, if any at all. Due to the lack of gunshots fired, it could be questioned whether the Russian action was, in fact, a use of force. Entrance of foreign soldiers into the territory of another state, regardless of whether actual armed force or violence takes place, constitutes a use of force that is inconsistent with Article 2(4) (ibid). In any case, once in Crimea, the Russian soldiers blockaded key sites such as airports, military bases, and communications (UNSC 2014). At that time, at the beginning of the crisis, it was not even clear whether the acts in question represented a prohibited use of force in international relations, also because it was unclear who the unidentified armed men were. As the days went by, and in particular after the imposition, starting from March 4, of a naval blockade against the port of Sevastopol and further along the Black Sea Cost by military units belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, along with the siege, seizure or blocking of a growing number of Ukrainian military bases ‘by Russian troops’, and the forceful taking over of border posts, it became increasingly clear that military coercion against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine was abundantly employed even without opening fire (Tancredi 2014). Accordingly, this constitutes a clear violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine by depriving the government in Kiev control of Crimea.
It is also important to note that Russia’s use of force is not just in violation of Article 2(4), it is also in in stark violation of Russia’s commitment to refrain from utilizing force against Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum in light of Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament.
On multiple levels, Russia has now transgressed international law and its only pretext for annexing Crimea is based on the recognition of a referendum which has no legitimacy in international law (Robert Volterra quoted in Lowe (n.d).
4.3 Russia’s Claims to Legality of Her Action in Crimea
Regarding Russia’s actions in Crimea, President Vladimir Putin argued:
If I do decide to use the Armed Forces, this will be a legitimate decision in full compliance with both general norms of international law, since we have the appeal of the legitimate President, and with our commitments, which in this case coincide with our interests to protect the people with whom we have close historical, cultural, and economic ties. Protecting these people is in our national interests. This is a humanitarian mission. We do not intend to subjugate anyone or to dictate to anyone. However, we cannot remain indifferent if we see that they are being persecuted, destroyed and humiliated (The Washington Post 4th March 2014).

As stated above, there are two clear exceptions to the use of force and prime facie, neither of these exceptions feature in Vladimir Putin’s statement.
The first exception is force which has been sanctioned by the UNSC in order to preserve international peace and security.

Russia’s use of force certainly cannot be justified as sanctioned by the UNSC as no resolution has been passed in order to allow use of force in Ukraine. The other exception is the aforementioned right of self-defence, which is enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter. Elaborating on the functioning of Article 51, the ICJ stated in the Armed Activities Case that “the Charter may justify a use of force in self-defence only within the strict confines there laid down” (UN Charter op. cit.).
 Accordingly, given that Article 51 specifies that self- defence may only be taken in response to an “armed attack,” (ibid); it is essential that there be an armed attack for self-defence to be utilised. At first glance, Ukraine has not attacked the Russian Federation. It would seem, therefore, that Russia has no right to use force in self-defence. However, in Putin’s statement, it was provided that Russia would use force in order to protect and defend Russian nationals and ethnic Russians abroad. It would seem, therefore, that Russia is seeking to rely upon the controversial claim to be protecting nationals abroad or as enunciated by Thomas Franck “self-defence against attacks on citizens abroad” (Franck 2002).
Accordingly, although Russia’s actions cannot be justified through the traditional formulation of self-defence, it remains possible that Russia’s actions may be justified through a more controversial formulation of self-defence the protection of nationals abroad. The protection of nationals abroad is, nevertheless, not the only justification espoused by Russia pertaining to the use of force in Crimea (Murray n.d.). Russia also invoked the principle of Self Determination in the Article 2, Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter. According to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin in the Annexation Speech:

Pursuant to Article 2, Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter, the UN International Court agreed with this approach and made the following comment in its ruling of July 22, 2010, and I quote: “No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to declarations of independence,” and “General international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence.” Crystal clear, as they say.

I do not like to resort to quotes, but in this case, I cannot help it. Here is a quote from another official document: the Written Statement of the United States America of April 17, 2009, submitted to the same UN International Court in connection with the hearings on Kosovo. Again, I quote: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.” End of quote. They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree and now they are outraged. Over what? The actions of Crimean people completely fit in with these instructions, as it were. For some reason, things that Kosovo Albanians (and we have full respect for them) were permitted to do, Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea are not allowed. Again, one wonders why (Putin 2014).

Russia (therefore) argues that the people of Crimea have a right to self-determination and that it is their basic right to choose to join Russia, citing Kosovo as an alleged precedent. But there is no equivalence whatsoever between Crimea and Kosovo, and as Chancellor Merkel has said, it is “shameful” to make the comparison. NATO intervention in Kosovo followed ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity on a large scale. An International Contact Group, including Russia, was brought together to discuss the future of Kosovo after the conflict. The independence of Kosovo followed nine years of work by the Kosovan authorities to satisfy the conditions of independent statehood, and mediation by a UN Special Envoy. None of these circumstances apply to Crimea (Hague 2014).

How Russia midwifed the controversial Crimean referendum for self-determination has also been laid bare; thus debunking further the justification of her action in Crimea on the grounds of self-determination. Hague (ibid) wrote:
The referendum was clearly illegal under the Ukrainian Constitution, which states that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is an integral constituent part of Ukraine, can only resolve issues related to its authority within the provisions of the Constitution, and that only the Ukrainian Parliament has the right to call such referendums.
This was a vote in circumstances where Crimea is occupied by over 20,000 Russian troops, and indeed the meeting of the Crimean Parliament that announced the referendum was itself controlled by unidentified armed gunmen and took place behind locked doors.
This referendum in the Crimea took place at ten days’ notice, without the leaders of Ukraine being able to visit Crimea, without meeting any of the OSCE standards for democratic elections. These include verification of the existence of an accurate and current voter registration list and confidence that only people holding Ukrainian passports were eligible to vote. The OSCE mission to Ukraine was refused entry to Crimea on 6th March, and there are reports of considerable irregularities including voting by Russia citizens, Crimean officials and militia taking mobile ballet boxes to the homes of residents, a blackout of Ukrainian television channels. The outcome of the referendum also does not reflect the views of minorities in Crimea, since the region’s Muslim Tatar minority, who make up 14-15% of the population, boycotted the referendum.
Furthermore, the ballot paper asked the people of Crimea to decide either to become part of the Russian Federation, or to revert to the highly ambiguous 1992 Constitution. There was no option on the ballot paper for those who support the status quo. The House should be in no doubt that this was a mockery of all democratic practice.
Vladimir Putin in the annexation statement admitted as-a-matter-of fact that Russia enhanced her troops in Crimea. “We did not exceed the personnel limit of our Armed Forces in Crimea, which is set at 25,000, because there was no need to do so” (Putin 2014). The “enhanced” militarization of Crimea, lack of approval from Ukrainian Parliament, denial of entrance to the OSCE Observer Mission and the non representation of the views the region’s Muslim Tatar minority, who make up 14-15% of the population that boycotted the exercise together brought the entire referendum to disrepute.



References
Allison, G. and Blackwill, R. (2011). Russia and U.S. National Interests Why Should Americans Care? A Report of the Task Force on Russia and U.S. National Interests Center for the National Interest Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
United Nations (1945) Charter of the United Nations 892 UNTS 119
Franck, T. (2002). Recourse to Force (OUP, Oxford, 2002) p.76
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Geiß, R. (2015). Russia’s Annexation of Crimea: The Mills of International Law Grind Slowly but They Do Grind. International Law Studies; Volume 91 2015
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Wood, A. (2013). Russian and Western Views of National Interests. The American Interest; March 29, 2013



CHAPTER FIVE
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

This study examined National Interest and International Law which focused on the Russia’s Annexation of Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. It began by establishing that the Ukrainian crisis became an international issue with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the eruption of separatist insurgencies in Russian-speaking regions of Eastern Ukraine. Then arose the issues of the legality of the Russia’s act in Ukraine under international law; Russia argued that they did not contravene any international law while Ukraine and the West accused Russia of violating international laws which included the nonintervention provisions in the UN Charter; the 1997 Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.
Ascertaining the truth therefore becomes imperative; asking questions whether Russia was right under international law in her annexation of Crimea; and the extent to which the act of annexation violated relevant international laws.  The review of literature however showed that the realists believed that nations can violate international laws whenever their national interest is at stake.  Analysis based on this assumption affirmed that Russia could not tolerate NATO in her “Backyard” and as such, took the bold step at forestalling perceived NATO incursion into Ukraine.  It also established the great extent to which the Russia’s annexation of a part of a sovereign Ukraine undermined several international laws (provided in the Appendices).
The reason why Russia considered Ukraine as her “backyard” was also laid bare in the historical study of the two geographical entities which are not only geographically contiguous but historically consanguineous. 

5.2 Conclusions
The study from the data analyzed therefore concludes that: Russia’s national interest to a very great extent informed her annexation of Crimea, a part of Ukraine because of their security, socio-cultural, political and economic interests. 
Russia violated international laws that bound her and Ukraine among which are the nonintervention provisions in the UN Charter; the 1997 Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.
The Russia-Ukrainian crisis is deeply rooted in history.

5.3 Recommendations
The Russian-Ukrainian crisis should be handled with utmost caution because it is a very delicate issue being that it involves the interest of a super power, Russia.  National interests have been described as those irreducible minimum that a nation can go to war for. If the crisis is not managed well by international actors especially the United Nations, the peace that the organization was created to protect would die a natural death while plunging the world into the third gruesome scourge of war.
The UN should persuade USA and NATO to suspend their interest in Ukraine indefinitely. Russia had promised to play by the rule if the status quo ante was restored in which we believe that something close to returning Viktor Yanukovych to power should more or less be implemented.
With the anarchical international system in mind, we recommend that countries should relinquish their weapons of self-defense with caution. Ukraine’s decision to disarm and surrender their inherited nukes from the defunct Soviet in observance of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, against the backdrop of this annexation crisis is not wise. What would become of Ukraine in the case of armed conflict with the nuclear-capable Russia? The only option would be assistance from NATO which will definitely throw off the global peace over the precipice. 
Ukrainian government should take more to negotiation than severing relations with Russia. The former is the only means to achieving a common ground for compromise while the latter would exacerbate the conflict.



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