Was it illegal for Russia to invade Ukraine in February 2022?
Russia cannot intentionally attack civilians in Ukraine. They have to oversee that humanitarian operations are fully allowed.
In accordance with the fourth Geneva Convention, Russia must confer complete protection to the civilians in Ukraine. It must fully allow relief and humanitarian facilities for civilians, including the provision of medical care to the people of Ukraine.
Ukrainians can sue Russia in the European Court of Human Rights for physical damages.
Ukraine and Russia are members of the European Court of Human Rights. Ukrainians can register new human rights violation cases against the invasion by Russia.
Russia violated the UN charter when it invaded Ukraine and used armed forces against the military establishments of Ukraine.
Russia likely violated Article 2 of the UN charter by invading Ukraine. Article 2 recognises the sovereign equality of all member states. Further, it prohibits UN members from using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of a member state.
Russia can contest that its act was within the bounds of international law, under the right to self-defence in the UN charter.
Ukraine was requesting to join NATO, whereas Russia and NATO have conflicting interests. Russia can cite Article 51 of the UN charter and contest that it has acted in self-defence.
Russia should have tried to settle the dispute with Ukraine by peaceful means, before announcing the attack.
In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of the UN charter, the members of the UN are expected to resolve their disputes by peaceful means so that international peace, security, and justice are not endangered.
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It is legal for Ukraine to adopt self-defence counter-measures against the Russian invasion.
Article 51 of the UN Charter authorises the right to self-defence to a member state. This right of Ukraine is valid until the UN Security Council adopts a formal resolution on this matter and takes measures to maintain peace and security.
It is legal for other countries to support the Ukraines’ self-defence countermeasures.
According to section 51 of the UN charter, members can use collective self-defence countermeasures to maintain peace and security. But other countries must immediately report these individual or collective self-defence measures to the UN Security Council.
The Russian leadership can be prosecuted within Russia, or elsewhere, for war crimes.
Crimes of aggression and war are prohibited in Russia, Ukraine, and most other countries. In the future, the Russian leadership can be tried or prosecuted for war crimes, in Russia and other countries, because of the universal applicability of laws against war crimes.