International Law: Russia’s Invasion in Ukraine


On the 24th of February 2022, Russia started its invasion of Ukraine which has been described as a violation of the international law. Almost a week before that, the Russian parliament reached a decision to request their president to acknowledge two areas as independent nations governed by the Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Five days later, he signed two verdicts that accepted the request and submitted for ratification to the parliament. He then ordered the country’s armed forces to ensure peace in Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. On the 22nd of February 2022, the upper chamber gave an approval to the request of Putin to deploy the army.

President Putin in his public comments suggested that the boundaries of the two states recognized as independent by his nation extend to large areas under the Ukrainian government. Since then, more troops have been deployed in the eastern region of Ukraine which has resulted in fighting. Since the middle of February, many violations of the 2014 ceasefire treaty in dispute-impacted places have been reported. Under the international law, the Russian troops are described as an occupying force. This paper explains the issue of Russian invasion in Ukraine and how the act has killed the international law.


The international law refers to a system of agreements and treaties between countries that governs how they interact with one another, people, and businesses in other nations. The situation present in the eastern region of Ukraine falls within the definition of occupation in the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 (Leon et al. 2). Neither recognition as independent states nor sovereignty entitlements by local governments in LNR or DNR influence the applicability of the law in this matter (Abonyi 4). The dispute between Russian-backed armed troops and government forces has caused a major disturbance on the people living in eastern Ukraine. It has resulted in the demise if more than sixteen thousand and displaced almost one and half a million.

The fighting has resulted in much destruction of infrastructure including residential houses, facilities such as hospitals and schools. This has been witnessed in on both sides of the contact line. It is important to note that both Ukraine and Russia participated in the establishment of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I of 1949. The dispute between the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces constitutes an international conflict governed by the international humanitarian treaty and the rules of customary international humanitarian law (Abonyi 5). The latter provides for the protection from the dangers of armed conflict of civilians and other individuals not recognized in the army.

The international humanitarian law addresses the means and techniques used by the parties involved during warfare. The first rule dictates that the fighting nations are obligated to differentiate between civilians and combatants (Ginsburg 222). The former may never be an intentional target of attacks. Therefore, the two sides ought to take every feasible precaution to limit the harm to the people and their properties and not carry out actions that fail to discriminate common citizens from the military. The international human rights law is still in effect and is applicable every time including during occupation whereby war legislation is useful.

In some scenarios, a humanitarian law normality may trump a human rights norm as the expected for the specific circumstance. Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to numerous regional as well as international human rights agreements (Abonyi 5). These outline the guarantees for basic rights that correspond to the entitlements of civilians and combatants as described by the international humanitarian legislation. An example is the ban on inhuman or degrading treatment of a person. There are rights that have to be respected always, for instance, right to life and safe from ill-treatment or torture.

The war laws restrict attacks on the military or army objectives. These refer to the objects and personnel that are contributing to the forces and whose damage, neutralization, or capture provides an edge of one side over the other. This consists of enemy fighters, ammunition and weapons as well as items utilized for the war purposes, that is, vehicles or buildings (Ginsburg 225). Whereas the humanitarian legislation acknowledges that causalities among civilians cannot be prevented, it demands that the parties be obligated to differentiate combatants from other people. Additionally, it imposes that they only target those actively participating in fighting. Someone can lose this immunity if they decide to directly get involved in the hostility. For example, the Ukrainian citizens who chose to fight alongside their army troops.

The war legislations protect the civilian objects as well that are described as anything not associated with the armed forces. Admiraal (3) suggests that directly attacking schools, residential homes, businesses, people’s apartments and their worship places, is prohibited. This is unless they are utilized for fighting purposes which makes them military objectives. In the eastern region of Ukraine, Russian army troops have destroyed education facilities with an approximate of seven hundred and fifty schools damaged. It is estimated that between nine thousand and twenty-four thousands of Ukrainian civilians have died since the 24th of February 2022 (Elliot 6). President Putin and his administration have clearly ignored the provisions of the international humanitarian law which does not permit any intentional or deliberate attack on innocent groups.

The international law does not allow unselective attacks which refer to strikes on civilians as well as military objectives without distinction. Examples include those that are directly aimed at military objective or utilize weapons that cannot be directed at a particular spot. An area bombardment has been prohibited as it is one that uses artillery that treat several isolated and dissimilar military objectives situated in a place that has a grouping of civilians and their objects. The commanders have to select a means that will limit incidental harm on the innocent parties (Elliot 6). It is a fact to state that Russian authorities have not done that.

In the event the used weapons are greatly inaccurate that they fail to direct an attack on a specific spot without harming civilians, the law dictates that they ought not to be deployed. The attacks that violate the ideology of proportionality are banned as well. They are deemed disproportionate if they may be anticipated to lead to incidental loss of life or destruction to the civilians or their objects (Ginsburg 230). Anti-personnel weaponry which are banned due to their inherently indiscriminate nature, have been utilized by the Russian army troops against Ukraine which is an indication of violation of international law. Supporters of Russia claim that it was right in its actions since it was defending the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic from the Ukrainian troops. This was a mistake as the right step for them to take was seeking advice from the United Nations which is responsible for peacekeeping worldwide. The organization has been involved in many instances of bringing peace where there is dispute. For example, through deployment of peacekeepers, it has been key in promoting in fighting for the end of Arab-Israeli war. Thus, it could have helped in peaceful regulation of Russian-Ukrainian conflict.


The paper has explained the Russian invasion in Ukraine and how the situation has killed the principles of international law. The international law is a collection of agreements that dictate how nations associate with one another including the businesses and people in those countries. In this case, it governs how Russia and Ukraine relate. However, what is currently happening in the eastern region of Ukraine can be described as occupation according to the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949. Russia has completely ignored its obligation towards adhering to the rules by starting a war against Ukraine and going to the extent of harming civilians.

The international law provides that civilians and civilian objects and military objectives are protected from direct attacks from any side of the war. However, it is reported that the Russian army troops have caused much damage to education facilities in Ukraine. It is approximated that nearly twenty thousand Ukrainian civilians have died since the war started this year. This is a clear violation which has received much criticism from various nations. However, those who support the invasion claim that it is in the right faith since Ukraine had initially declared war against Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

Works Cited

Abonyi, Anselm Uchechukwu. “Invasion of Ukraine by Russia: the legal implications.” Law and Social Justice Review, vol. 2, no. 3, 2022, pp. 1-8.

Admiraal, Beth. “Religion and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe, vol. 42, no. 2, 2022, pp.3. Web.

Elliot, Mark R. “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: what’s religion got to do with it?” Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe, vol. 42, no. 2, 2022, pp. 6. Web.

Ginsburg, Tom. “Authoritarian international law?” American Journal of International Law, vol. 114, no. 2, 2020, pp. 221-260. Web.

Leon, David A., et al. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine and its public health consequences.” The Lancet Regional Health–Europe, vol. 15, no. 3, 2022, pp. 1-2. Web.

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