By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
September 03, 2022
In 2008, President Vladimirr Putin of Russia invaded Georgia. In 2014, he repeated military history by invading Crimea. Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that on 24 February 2022, the Russian President Putin repeated military history one more time by his unprovoked, illegal invasion of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin has consistantly argued that it was “an act of self-defense” and “a special military operation” aimed at the “demilitarization ” and “denazification” of Ukraine.
The inherent, salient geo-political stark reality is that when Russian President Vladimir Putin militarily invaded Ukraine, he broke/violated international sovereign independent nation-state law. Indeed, these three above-mentioned foreign military aggressions should suggest that Russian President Putin has surmised that he can act and pursue military policies with a modicum of geo-political, legal invincibility. Furthermore, he clearly understands that international legal power and control lie in “the right to veto” clause ratified and enshrined in the United Nations Charter. They DO NOT lie in the imposition of sanctions.
The salient fact of the matter is that Vladimir Putin’s geo-political master-plan is to restore modern-day Russia to the powerful global hey days of the then superpower Soviet Union “by any means necessary.”
Vladimir Putin is totally convinced that he cannot be stopped. And with the present ratified and signed structure of the 26 June 1945 United Nations Charter, he might just be right.
In other words, the imposition of severe, draconian economic sanctions on Russia by European countries only deal with the effect of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. They DO NOT deal with the cause of that invasion.
Put another way, history suggests that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a colossal tragedy while the imposition of sanctions on Russia is the undisputed farce—plain and simple.
And this overt farce goes back to 1945 to the extent that “the right of the veto which is in the Charter of the United Nations can only be brought into question if two-thirds of the General Assembly (193 members)agree to that end and the (Security) Council’s five permanent members unanimously renounced that privilege.” That’s the inherent/endemic problem.
It must be noted here that the countries who are now in 2022 imposing economic sanctions on Russia are the very same countries who in 1945 inserted and agreed to the word ” unanimously.” This word has now come back to bite these countries viciously.
Ipso facto, the imposition of economic sanctions is not the problem, rather the solution clearly lies in restructuring and eliminating the key word “unanimously” in the Charter of the United Nations and replacing it with the word majority.
At this juncture, the crucial questions that must be asked are: will there ever be a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly to effectuate such a veto structural change in the Security Council?. The answer is NO. Another crucial question is: will the five permanent members of the Security Council renounce that privilege?. The answer is NO
The salient geopolitical stark reality is that Russian troops have bombed apartment buildings, government offices, an opera house, a concert hall, art school, a maternity hospital, a drama theater, plus a public train station on independence day 24 August 2022 that resulted in the death of 15 human beings and the wounding of 50 more. In addition, the United Nations has estimated that more than 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 5, 587 civilians have been killed plus 7, 890 wounded as of August 2022.
The above-mentioned information strongly suggests that the imposition of economic sanctions will not stop Vladimir Putin ‘s “war crimes” translated into “crimes against humanity”; on the contrary, only the lethal, potent imposition of international law via the United Nations Security Council will, period and full stop.
In the final analysis, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now totally convinced that he can act militarily with international legal impunity simply because the Charter of the United Nations has got his back. Economic sanctions will just roll off his country duck’s back. They are immaterial, irrelevant and non-sequential in addition to being totally ineffective.
The bottom line is that President Vladimir Putin has everything to gain in terms of autocracy while the European countries have everything to lose but their democracy.
President Putin is NOT going to end his military invasion of Ukraine and beyond until and when he is ordered to do so by the United Nations Security Council —an order he cannot veto.
Truth Be Told: Only a radical, structural change in the international geo-political world order will and can stop Russian President Vladimir Putin dead in his external military aggressive tracks.
“And that’s the way it is.”
—Author Dr Kwame Nantambu is Professor Emeritus, Kent State University.