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Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Sovereign Democracy: Some Remarks on the Annexation of Crimea by Russia

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The problem of modern-day Russia lies in its failure to reckon with its own history and in its continued imperialist tradition. Russia is deliberately testing the political integrity of the West. International law and the values it protects are being seriously challenged.

The principle of self-determination of peoples has to be viewed as an instrument of justice and stability. There is no right to secession or prohibition of secession in international law. SC resolution 1244 (1999) does not prohibit secession and does not replace the will of the people of Kosovo as to self-determination. The secession of Kosovo cannot be the precedent for Crimea. Russian interpretation of the ICJ advisory opinion of 2010 is clearly inconsistent.

Consideration of the Crimean case in the context of self-determination is a guise of Russian aggression leading to annexation of Crimea. Russian military action satisfies the criteria enumerated by the definition of aggression (UN GA Resolution 3314, Article 8 bis of the ICC Statute).

The reliance on self-defence in the context of protecting Russian citizens in Ukraine is in any case unjustified. The recently-developed doctrine of responsibility to protect (R2P) cannot be applied either.

The consequence of keeping peace at any price may appear to be war. The policy of appeasement is an illusion of the guarantee of peace. Between the use of military force and diplomatic negotiations there is ample space for other instruments. Russia may be stopped by political and economic measures – it is the question of political will to act.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 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.

    Subscriber access to Archiv des Völkerrechts is no longer available on Ingenta Connect. Please go to to access your online subscriptions to these titles.

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