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Der Anschluss der Krim an Russland aus völkerrechtlicher Sicht

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Russia seized the opportunity given by the State-Crisis of Ukraine in winter 2013–2014 to incorporate the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sebastopol into its Federation as new member bodies. The process of drawing Crimea into Russia started at the end of February 2014 with the seizure of power in Crimea's capital Simferopol by pro-Russian forces backed by Russian troops, and formally came to an end on March 18th with signing the Treaty on Admission of the “Republic of Crimea” to Russian Federation. All the unilateral and bilateral acts adopted by Crimea and Russia during that time were illegal, and therefore could not produce their legal effects intended. The main violation of public international law norms was Russia's military occupation of Crimean peninsula. It was executed by special forces transferred to Crimea, and by using Russia's Black Sea Fleet forces in contradiction to the agreement with Ukraine adopted in May 1997 on their deployment on the peninsula. The illegal use of force overshadowed the allegedly exercising of people's right to self-determination claimed by the Crimean Autonomous Republic. An action of strategic importance was the forcible replacement of legitimate Crimean government by pro-Russian politicians in Simferopol on February 27th guaranteeing fully control over the following steps of Crimea up to its accession to Russia.

It is true, Crimea as a multinational territory with a specific historical, ethnic and cultural profile fulfills the criteria of a subject having the right to self-determination, but selfdetermination as a principle of public international law doesn't grant a general right to secession from the parent state. A right to remedial secession as ultima ratio being highly controversial in international law doctrine people of Crimea cannot claim, because of the fact, that they did not meet its extraordinary conditions.

The referendum of March 16th was illegal, since its preparation, organization and execution steered by a pro-Russian puppet regime did not comply with minimal democratic standards established by international law. The Declarations of Independence of March 11th and 17th could not produce any legal effect. Certainly, going out from ICJ's Kosovo Advisory Opinion (2010) the Declarations as such do not contradict to public international law norms. Nevertheless they are illegal, because both documents were adopted under conditions of violation of the principle of prohibition of the use of force against territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine.

The recognition of the “Republic of Crimea” by Russia on March 17th violated the prohibition to intervene into domestic affairs of Ukraine deriving from the international law principle of sovereign equality of States. The recognition is also invalid, since the “Republic of Crimea” as a puppet State, i.e. an territorial entity without independent public power, did not meet one of the core criteria of statehood. Finally the Treaty on Admission of Crimea to Russia signed on March 18th is invalid, too. Lacking statehood it is even questionable, whether Crimea was able to make treaties in the sense of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. In any case the Treaty is null and void by virtue of art. 53 of the Convention, firstly because it was made under conditions that violated the prohibition of use of force, and secondly because the incorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Crimea's incorporation into Russia constitutes an act of annexation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2014

More about this publication?
  • Archiv des Völkerrechts (Archive of Public International Law - AVR) has been founded as a quarterly journal in 1948. With its scientific papers, reports and book reviews, the journal covers the full spectrum of developments in public international law.

    Das Archiv des Völkerrechts ist eine im Jahre 1948 gegründete Vierteljahresschrift. In Abhandlungen, Berichten und Buchbesprechungen behandelt sie die Entwicklung des internationalen Rechts in seiner ganzen Breite. Das AVR ist ein Forum der deutschsprachigen Völkerrechtswissenschaft und sucht den internationalen Dialog des Faches.

    Die Beiträge reflektieren dogmatische und theoretische Grundfragen des Völkerrechts ebenso wie die Entwicklung der internationalen Rechtsprechung. Die behandelten Rechtsgebiete reichen vom überlieferten Kernbestand des zwischenstaatlichen Völkerrechts und des Rechts der bewaffneten Konflikte über das Recht internationaler Organisationen, die Menschenrechte, das Umweltvölkerrecht und Welthandelsrecht bis hin zu Fragen des internationalen Verwaltungsrechts.

    Im Mittelpunkt standen in der jüngsten Zeit neben Beiträgen zu aktuellen völkerrechtlichen Konflikten insbesondere die Diskussion um die wechselseitige Durchdringung partikularer und universeller Rechtsordnungen und die Entstehung einer materialen völkerrechtlichen Prinzipienordnung.Das AVR erscheint vierteljährlich und veröffentlicht Beiträge in deutscher, englischer und französischer Sprache.

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