What are reasons and character of Russo-Ukrainian war? What do they tell Moldova about? IPN debate

What concerns the most about the war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, besides the war itself, is the approval of this war by a considerable part of the population of Russia and of other countries, including the Republic of Moldova. Many people wonder where this approval that is abnormal for the people and for humanity in the 21st century comes from as thousands of people die, including innocent civilians, children, tens of localities are destroyed and millions of people lose or leave their homes, their relatives. An explanation can be the fact that not everyone realizes the reasons of this war, the difference between the real and invented reasons, the real character of this war. The experts invited to a public debate staged by IPN News Agency discussed the pretexts and reasons and the current effects of this war.

Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said the war is perceived as an armed conflict between states or groups of states aimed at achieving particular objectives by violent always. The UN Charter and The Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land call on the conflicting states to take all the measures to prevent the war. “If the parties haven’t reached a peace agreement, they should present an ultimatum or a declaration of war. In the absence of an ultimatum or a declaration of war, this is considered perfidious aggression,” he stated.

“The Convention for the Definition of Aggression signed in 1933 provides that the attacker is the one that commits aggression, wages a war against another state, an attack or an invasion without declaring war, etc.”, explained Igor Boțan. According to the expert, aggression refers to the use of the armed force of a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of any other state. Respectively, the aggressive war is against international peace and entails international responsibility. By type, the wars can be classified into external, internal, global, colonial, civil, religious, etc.  

“If we refer to military operations, these are military activities whose intensity is lower than that of a war. In the case of the Russo-Ukrainian war, the invoking of the war is avoided for purely legal reasons. If Russia had declared war on Ukraine, in accordance with Article 353 of the Penal Code of Russia, the senior administration of the Russian Federation should have been judged and convicted to up to 15 years in jail. So, the military operations are often used to display the military power and to organize in advance an armed intervention,” stated Igor Boțan.

German political scientist Anneli Ute Gabanyi, senior fellow of the Research Institute of Radio Free Europe in Munich and of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said Russia’s justification for its attack against Ukraine is ‘absolutely perfidious’. “They speak about the “demilitarization” of a country that, after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, realized the harsh reality and started to absolutely legally defend itself from this aggression. “Denazification” is fully absurd as the President of Ukraine is Jewish. Russia insisted on this Azov group that before being incorporated into the Ukrainian troops indeed had an ideology of the right, but they cannot speak about a whole country in such terms,” stated Anneli Ute Gabanyi, who is the author of recent history studies and security studies concerning Romania and the Republic of Moldova.

According to her, there are reasons declared by Russia that refer to the whole process of enlargement of NATO and the European Union. “At the beginning, Russia asked for written guarantees from the Western states as to the revision of the NATO borders set after 1997, when a decision to expand the Alliance was taken in Madrid. Such requests that were the first of the kind in contemporary history surely couldn’t have been accepted by the Western states and the states that joined NATO without being forces by anyone, but for fear of Russia,” said Anneli Ute Gabanyi.

Ex-deputy prime minister for reintegration Victor Osipov, Moldova’s former ambassador to the OSCE, said Moscow and Kiev evidently provided different explanations for the war and have different interpretations of this. “I would rather name the reasons for declaring the war pretexts that were either invoked in public or were hidden by the Russian Federation, which is the only entity responsible for this aggression. It is an undeclared, unjust war of Russia against Ukraine,” stated Victor Osipov.

“The pretexts made public by the Russia side, including concerning the annexation of Ukrainian territories to Russia, were initially declared formulation mistakes. They were confirmed in three months of the start of the war and many things become evident. It goes to the actions of the occupation forces on territories of Ukraine, to the creation of “local administrations” and many other actions, including the invention of the requests to join them to the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, Russian propaganda disseminates all these things.

“Among the pretexts is also the reaction to the enlargement of NATO, which is the main geopolitical argument invoked by Moscow. The restoration or rather the destruction of the unipolar model in which the U.S. allegedly plays the main role and the return to multilateralism are a pretext that is not mentioned in the speech of the Russian President, but is often uttered and circulated. These are the pretexts, while the objectives are to annex territories, to destroy Ukraine, especially its aspirations to integrate into the Western world, into the European Union and the North-Atlantic Alliance,” said Victor Osipov.

The public debate entitled “What are the reasons and character of Russo-Ukrainian war? What do they tell the Republic of Moldova about?” was the 247th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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