European co-celligerance

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)
18/03/22

Despite constant proclamations by national politics, the European Union has once again proved inadequate in dealing with a large-scale international crisis.

When the Union asserts that Russia has attacked Ukraine in violation of international law, which should regulate coexistence between nations, it is legally correct.

Therefore, a nation that would place itself outside the current conflict would choose a position of neutrality with respect to the warring parties, since according to the same law, a military intervention would constitute an act of aggression against Russia.

However, several states have decided to send arms to Ukraine, going out de facto from the condition of neutrality.

The condition of neutrality is a well-defined legal institution in International Relations. If one of the parties involved in a conflict were directly or indirectly supported, the position of neutrality would be lost.

In the Russian-Ukrainian war, NATO and the European Union have clearly taken sides with Ukraine. This manifested itself not only with the massive use of economic sanctions but also with the sending of armaments to Ukrainian fighters.

With these measures, both NATO and the EU became Kiev's co-belligerents against the Russian Federation.

As previously said, Western co-belligerence cannot even be motivated by the principle of "legitimate defense" which, in International Law, expresses a different legal meaning from that applied - by any Criminal Code - to a single citizen. All this is motivated by the need to make a clear distinction between the Ius ad bellum, that is the right of each state to be able to use violence in order to protect its interests if these should be threatened by another state entity (therefore also the right to defend itself if attacked) and Ius in nice, or the Law in War, which constitutes a very important part of Public International Law: it includes both the rules that, in times of armed conflict, protect people who do not take or no longer take part in hostilities, and the rules that set limits the use of weapons, means and methods of warfare (already provided for in the first Geneva Convention of 1864).

In this context, there is no hypothetical distinction between "just" or "unjust" war (just as there is no distinction between the aggressor and the attacked). In fact, International Humanitarian Law applies regardless of the causes that originated the hostilities and without any regard to the responsibilities underlying the conflict.

Under the Ius in Beautiful all parties involved in an armed confrontation enjoy the same rights e they are obliged to respect the same international constraints.

The latter remains effective if it manages to perform the precise function of "limiting" a possible expansion (containment) of the conflict. That is, if there is no distinction between attacker and aggressor, for the purpose of determining the principle of neutrality.

In the case of military supplies to the Ukrainians, the other party in the struggle (Russia) could adopt hostile measures against those states that support the resistance of Kiev, in full compliance with International Law (much heralded by our politicians), as just retaliation for the violation of the principle of neutrality.

Photo: NATO / MoD Ukraine / presidency of the council of ministers