Ukraine: The right of self-determination supersedes sovereign inviolability

By Ted Belman

What should take precedence, sovereignty or self-determination in Ukraine? That’s a good question, perhaps the ultimate question.

The West, consisting of US, EU and NATO, answers, sovereignty, of course, while they demonize Putin and provoke him.

They cite the Budapest Memorandum, of 1994 in which signatories, including Russia and the US, committed to ““refrain from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine and undertook to respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty in the existing (1994) borders.”, They claim the 2022 Russian invasion violated this fundamental commitment.

They ignore the fact that the CIA orchestrated coup disrespected the sovereignty of Ukraine, employed coercive actions against the political independence of Ukraine, and subordinated the economic interests of Ukraine to that of the EU, and thereby violated the provisions 1, 2 and 3 of the Bucharest Memorandum, respectively, and, these actions, each of which preceded Russia’s invasion of Crimea, actually triggered Russia’s occupation of the Crimea..

The 2014 CIA masterminded coup, sometimes referred to as the Maiden uprising, which removed the pro-Russian head of state, Viktor Yanukovych and installed a pro-West head of state is not mentioned. That’s OK in their book, but best forgotten. They take no responsibility for the bombardment by Ukrainian Army of the citizens of the Donbass since then, killing over 10,000. Nor do they acknowledge the role of the Nazi Azov Battalion which Ukraine made part of their army and which did most of the killing.

‘Maidan Revolution,’ annexation of Crimea and Russia-Ukraine war

“The February 2014 “Maidan Revolution” in Ukraine led to former President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and a pro-Western government coming to power.

“This was followed by Russia illegally annexing the Crimea region and separatists declaring independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donbas in eastern Ukraine, both of which have large ethnic Russian populations.

“Almost eight years after the annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin in February recognized Ukraine’s breakaway regions as “independent states” and launched a war on its neighbor.’

Whether the annexation was illegal or not is open to dispute. See Annexation and International Law

In 2017, The NATION published Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine;

“Five years ago, Ukraine’s Maidan uprising ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, to the cheers and support of the West. Politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of Maidan’s ultra-nationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots. Freedom was on the march in Ukraine.”

What are the Minsk agreements? Published on Feb 9, 2022

Minsk I

“Ukraine and the Russia-backed separatists agreed on a 12-point ceasefire deal in September 2014.   However, the agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.”

Minsk II

“Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of separatist-held regions Donetsk and Luhansk signed a 13-point agreement in February 2015.”

Russia was not a party to this agreement. It was never implemented because of a difference of opinion as to what had been agreed upon.

“It (Ukraine) wants a ceasefire, control of the Russia-Ukraine border, elections in the Donbas, and a limited devolution of power to the separatists – in that order.

“Russia views the deal as obliging Ukraine to grant rebel authorities in Donbas comprehensive autonomy and representation in the central government, effectively giving Moscow the power to veto Kyiv’s foreign policy choices.”

Fast forward to Feb 2022,

 “Moscow may see Minsk II as a way to guarantee its central security demand – that Ukraine is never allowed to join NATO. Washington and NATO have already rejected that demand.”

Because of this rejection, Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence and Russia, after recognizing their independence, began what it called, a “special military operation.” The West called it an invasion.

Eight months later and over 200,000 dead or injured, the war rages on and Russia has formally annexed Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. All because the West refused to agree to Russia’s demand that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine called the Ukrainian army “mainly NATO”

 “an army trained and equipped according to NATO standards. And our army is basically a NATO army, our military is trained according to NATO standards, we have NATO command chains.”

The fact that the West is now heavily involved in the supply of weapons and money to Ukraine, even though Ukraine‘s application to join NATO has been rejected, suggests the Russia’s fears were well founded. Russia didn’t imagine that NATO would attack her  even if Ukraine wasn’t a member of NATO.

Now, back to the ultimate question: Does the right of self-determination supersede sovereignty?

The Principle of Self-Determination in International Law

“The Charter of the United Nations came into force in 1945, in which Article 1 includes reference to self-determination. This meant, for the first time, self-determination was recognised in an official international legal document, affirming that it was an existing right. However, the lack of definition and detail as to what self-determination entails provided in the Charter left little ability for the right to be applied, particularly in relation to secession. But, the 1966 International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights  (ICCPR) transformed that by providing a substantive definition about what is encompassed in the right to self-determination;

‘All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development’.

The ICCPR was ratified by Ukraine on Oct 12, 1973 so it is bound by it.

This right of self-determination therefor supersedes the sanctity of sovereignty.

Surely, the residents of the four provinces and the Crimea have the right of self-determination as legalized by this Treaty. They speak Russian as their mother-tongue and think of themselves as Russian.

These residents have not only overwhelmingly voted “yes” in their respective referendums recently held, they also voted “yes” in the 2014 referendum. They previously voted overwhelmingly for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian candidate for the presidency in 2010.

The West called these referenda “shams” and said they were “unconstitutional” and “lacked legitimacy”. The above noted right of self-determination was not conditional on whether or not it was “constitutional”. Thus it is ipso facto, legal.

In calling the referenda shams, the West is in fact, recognizing the right of self- determination providing the referenda are properly held.

The West also supported the right of Kosovo to secede from Serbia. So they can’t argue that there is no such right.

If the West was prepared to recognize the right of self-determination of the four provinces and the Crimea, they could save face by supporting the referenda or calling for a revote. This would enable it to end the war on a high note.

October 31, 2022 | 24 Comments »

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24 Comments / 24 Comments

  1. @Edgar
    The point is, if the referendum favoured secession, then it would have happened even thought the Canadian constitution does not provide for it.. In other words, all peoples have a right to secede.

  2. TD-

    My recollection is that the referendum narrowly failed beauce Montreal itself was an almost totally English speaking City and turned the scales.
    I recall the Nnational Debt” item, but ALL countries have them and I don’t think it was a major factor, Just one of several “con’s”.

    The facts are that Quebec was not going to lift itself away OUT of Canada it wouls stay where it was and come to mutually satisfactory arrangements with the rest of Canada.

    That is, f the ref had secceeded.
    NOrmally I support Sovereignty, but in this case the French were there long before the English who took the land by force of arms. The French were only trying to get some of it back.
    The Brirish are cruel rulers, I always think of Riel…….and how they dispose of opposition. Or DID.
    But T.G. the don’t “Rule the Waves” any longer.

  3. @Edgar
    Remember many decades ago Quebec held a referendum on seceding from Canada. In the end, it decided to stay because of the “notwithstanding clause”. I do not recall any reason why they couldn’t succeed. The only thing I remember was that Canada said they have to take their share of the national debt with them if they go.

  4. TED_

    It depends on which Law you refer to. The UN declaration, was primarily meant for Colonial Empires in Africa breaking away and becoming independent.

    Under normal circumstances Human Rights entitles a people to self determination, as far as I see, but states whose sovereign territories are affected, deny that this is a valid INTERNAL right.

    This seems to be the case in Ukraine, where the affected provinces are not colonised, but a part of the sovereign state, and encouraged by Russia to secede and become “independent”, but in reality be Russian dependencies. This is in line with Russian goals -which are to reconstitute the Soviet Empire.

    And, Russia, a major Power, aggressively, suddenly invaded Ukraine. This portrays giant Russia as a bully. of smaller nations.
    We just differ. I believe it might all have been settled peacefully by offering genuine autonomy to the disaffected provinces.

  5. @Edgar
    You are right. All counties have a vested interest in maintaining their sovereign yet all countries ratified this treaty. These countries usually use force to suppress the people who want to secede. That’s the reality. The people who want to secede need a patron to enable it. That patron was the US regarding Kosovo and Russia regarding the four provinces and Ukraine. Nevertheless, the law is the law.

  6. TED-

    My reasons are that a threat to any nation’s sovereignty causes much disarray and instability for the whole area, including adjoining countries. , Possibly Civil War, and even if and when the two sides come to an uneasy peace, it will always be “uneasy’. It also brings in other nations who aide opposite sides to work off their own antagonisms, and keep a bubbling pot boiling.

    There are parts of Europe where the sovereign nation will forcibly restrict an area from any secession. There are several which have been simmering for many years, where the inhabitants are truly a different people……l.Like the Bretons in Normandy. Whenn I was in Nice, I had no idea I was in a “different” country.

    And I recall many years ago Travelling from Ostend to Antwerp, picking up a hitch-hiking soldier who spoke NO French at all, only Flemish. I was caught in a massive demonstration against Belgian rule one day, where I was nearly trampled by a huge police horse, and many shots were fired.
    The policemen wore Nazi style coal-bucket helmets.

    And in other completely landlocked mini-countries, their “Independence” is really only a farce. When I was on a business trip to Italy many years ago, I passed right through San Marino without even knowing it. No border signs, no customs, NOTHING. For all intents and purposes it was and is part of Italy. Andorra is the same, the rulers change with the French governments. And there has been Basque problems for well over a hundred years, not to mention Catalonia. Spain has become very repressive there.

    I recall once, driving from Calais to Spain on a holiday,,where we went right through “Basqueland”, We actually stopped at night and stayed at the Hotel Du Col, near the peak of the Pyrenees. To me, I was just travelling from France to Spain.

    During the Napoleonic Wars, it was “ruled” by Marshall Suchet, so well and peacefully that thee people wanted to make him their ruler and separate from Spain, this being a very old, festering wound.

    I have read several detailed essays on Sovereignty or Self Determination,,, and there are as many different legal opinions as there are stars in the sky.

    So not being an International legal scholar does not impede your opinion at all. I just happen to have an opposing one. I saw the question where “what if” the YESHA Mamzerim actually voted to became independent from Israel, as they already swear they are…….

    The cat is immediately amongst the pigeons right in your own home.

    Except for Kosovo, (and that was more NATO than the Kosovars) I don’t know of any successful secessions, (although many countries regard it as autonomous only) since the US Civil War, and we know how that ended up.

    Autonomy rather than sovereignty is far more workable.

  7. @Edgar
    I am far from being an international law expert but that is my assessment. This treaty clearly says a people have a right of self determination.
    And you are saying they don’t but offered nothing in your comment that would make your case.

  8. I have concerns about the opinion that Self Determination, is the deciding factor. I feel Sovereignty, if lawful and recognised by the International Community, is more binding.


  9. “They claim Russia violated…”

    Is it really only a “claim”. I don’t think so. Russia clearly invaded Ukraine.

  10. @ Raphael.
    I just added this sentence to the article “The ICCPR was ratified by Ukraine on Oct 12, 1973 so it is bound by it.”
    This applies to all countries that ratified it.

  11. Several points:

    In the debate over sovereignty vs self-determination, we may agree with the principle of self-determination as it applies to Crimea and the four provinces in eastern Ukraine, (now Russia), but can self-determination be applied uniformly? As objectionable as this sounds, the balestinians might seek to use self-determination as justification for their own cause. For that matter, many, many groups could claim independence based on self-determination, which would result in conflicts all over the world. So, it would seem that the line on self-determination needs to be drawn somewhere.

    As for the 101st Div rotating in as the 82nd rotates out, the fact that they are moving in a division with a huge combat reputation is an escalation in itself, let alone the statement that the US is ready to move into Ukraine. I hope that Russia is taking the threat seriously and is gearing up to respond appropriately.

    Lastly, Putin is playing the game wisely by not advancing in Ukraine right now, despite what his warhawks say. He does not want to give Biden any excuse which might sway the mid-term elections in his direction. When the mid-terms are over and the political dust has settled, then I fully expect Putin to release his forces. A couple more weeks will also allow the Russians to prepare, and it will give the ground a chance to freeze.

  12. @Michael
    Lubas’ words are just words, if he actually ever made the statement he is quoted as having made. If the US wanted into this war, they would already be in this war. They will fight to the last Ukrainian, and if the Poles are stupid enough to enter this fight, they will likely extend them the same courtesy, IMO. As regards the Chechens, yes, they are not happy about the delay, and the delay. Likely this is a sentiment common among the Russian hawks which would clearly include the Chechens forces. Putin, however, is determined to handle this war in a very deliberate fashion, which is why he has held his forces back from acting in the best interest of the Russian position, having left the very infrastructure in place over the past 8months in Western Ukraine which is now being dismantled. It is this same infrastructure which allowed the Ukrainians to easily ship men, weapons and food to the front lines without intervention, something which could have hardly sat well with the Russian hawks, then or now. In any event, I am quite confident that the hawks will soon be satisfied, over the next month or so, with the coming carnage in which Ukraine will have a difficult time facing the Russians with a much larger force than they previously faced. But time will tell if this is true.

  13. Thank you for your elucidation, Peloni. You pointed out that the rotation of the 101st for the 82nd is not an actual “escalation”:

    the timing of the 101st being rotated in as a replacement force seems to be a way for the current Dem admin to project strength as their members are becoming somewhat concerned about their potential losses in the coming election… to rally their supporters to the polls, because, after all, the election fraud needs some real votes to support their efforts on election day.

    I hadn’t considered this, because I was more concerned with the comment from Gen. Lubas,

    “The U.S. forces are “fully prepared” to cross into Ukraine at a moment’s notice to fight against Russia, Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the division’s deputy commander, told CBS News.”

    That, in itself, is an escalation in words, since the presence of NATO troops in Romania used to be explained without reference to Russia.

    As for threats of escalation, it may be coming from the other direction:

    Putin’s Two Biggest War Hawks Are Turning on Him
    …Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov went public with his complaints late Monday on Telegram, where he said he was “very unhappy” with the current state of the war.
    “Earlier we used to say that we were conducting a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine, but the war is already happening on our territory,” he said in a 13-minute audio recording, apparently referring to shelling in Russia’s Belgorod region that local authorities blamed on Ukraine over the weekend.

    “We have already declared martial law in the territories bordering Ukraine but they [Ukrainians] are not shy, they shoot… We, in response, are answering weakly,” he said, calling for the Russian military to “wipe out cities” any time a shell flies toward Russian territory.
    October 25, 2022

    This was not filtered to us by the media, as was the “101st” article; it was straight from the horse’s mouth, in a public announcement.

  14. @Michael
    One thing which they fail to explain in that article is that the 82nd Airborne is rotating out of Romania to be replaced with the 101st. So in otherwords, this story which is being sold as an escalation of US forces in the region, is actually not an escalation at all. The 82nd was moved into that position back in February, and the timing of the 101st being rotated in as a replacement force seems to be a way for the current Dem admin to project strength as their members are becoming somewhat concerned about their potential losses in the coming election. In other words, this is nothing more than a political gambit to help the Dems as they try to rally their supporters to the polls, because, after all, the election fraud needs some real votes to support their efforts on election day.

  15. U.S. military says 101st Airborne 3 miles from Ukraine border is ‘combat deployment’
    October 24, 2022

    The U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, deployed to Europe for the first time since World War II, has been carrying out live-round tank and artillery exercises at a forward operating site on NATO’s eastern flank and not far from the Ukraine border, U.S. military officials said.

    The U.S. forces are “fully prepared” to cross into Ukraine at a moment’s notice to fight against Russia, Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the division’s deputy commander, told CBS News.

    Testing the waters.

  16. Hi, Tanna

    Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules!

    Clever and funny; but the reality is that the REAL rules, the ones that apply in nature, have been given by God. When they’re obeyed, they work for good; when they’re ignored, they work for bad; but they always work.

    I just watched a classic Victor Davis Hanson video, pre-Trump; and it seems nothing has changed at all among the major players: Putin is described as the fool he is today, Biden might as well be Obama… I was over halfway through it, before I realized that it was NOT from today and NOT talking explicitly about the Ukraine.

    He made one especially timeless comment: That societies go into decline because they WANT to go into decline.

    We’re looking at a 1, 2 punch: Ezekiel 39, then Zechariah 14.

  17. You know people….. everyone reads the cards/facts to fit there on bias. I’m sure I’m not getting all the facts because, I just can’t keep up. But I find it so hypocritical for the west to call a county who supplies Russia with armaments as a terrorist’s country while they do the same thing and call it a fight for democracy. What BS. It looks to me like there is coming a cleavage between the east and the west and only time will tell what our world will look like in 20 years. Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules!

  18. Thanks for the facts, Will Fullknowledge 🙂

    I was amazed in c. 1992, when the Soviet Union was splitting apart, that there wasn’t partitioning of republics like Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan, with their large Russian and Ukrainian minority populations. Kazakhstan, in particular, was over half European, not too long before that, and had never been independent of Russia, yet it opted for independence and, after voluntary population shifts, majority Kazakh. Then Russia started nibbling away at independent states like Moldova and Georgia, while crushing independence movements in Chechnya and elsewhere. Something similar happened in Yugoslavia, with NATO tipping the scale against the Serbs. The bottom line in every case, as well as in Ukraina, is that the borders, which had initially been settled peacefully, over time became UN-settled with conflict, and remain unsettled today: War did nothing to advance an accepted resolution of differences.

    Russia is becoming a firm ally of Iran and Syria. If this is the outcome everyone here has wanted, congratulations! The day is yours!

  19. @ Willfulknowledge.

    Thanks for the fact check. One of the reasons the pro-Russian vote was as low as you wrote, although only 50% is needed, is because Ukraine worked to dilute the Russian majority in Crimea, with non Russians.

    As for the referendum, valid, until proven otherwise. If the West accepts their right to secede and says it will abide by the results of a supervised referendum, I am all for it.

  20. A complete misunderstanding of the history of the conflict. Crimea voted 54% in favor of independence in 1991 with the other “Russian speaking” oblasts voting (under supervision) between 83 and 90% in favor of independence, . There were an estimated 14,200–14,400 deaths in the War in Donbas from 6 April 2014, through 31 December 2021, with most deaths between 2014 and 2015. Ukraine did NOT kill 10,000 civilians. An estimated 3,404 civilians were killed, with an almost even split between sides. There was never any agreement that Ukraine would never join NATO. There was an offhand remark that Russia chose to interpret one way and the West another. Gorbechov himself said it referred to Germany. The point was moot as Germany had nixed the idea from the beginning. It’s astounding that you actually take a “referendum”, without any observers, totally controlled by Russia, as valid.

  21. My point being that factual context is not only important, it’s required or one can’t formulate a legitimate point of view on anything.

    Great line! Life is precious, but only in regard to the esteem given to it by your government. The church, synagogue and religions should be arguing for life. Governments have never cared for the life of its citizens they are just cannon fodder in waiting. Dam the women, children and the family just as long as the government objectives are achieved.

  22. Great piece! There is so much ammunition to debunk the current one sided opinion on this war (Russia / Putin = Bad, Ukraine / Zelensky = Good). In my blog I highlighted many of them but I was mostly centred on my mission to fight antisemitism so I led with what my mother and most other Jewish eastern European Holocaust survivors would say and have said about Ukraine: Los em brennen (Let them burn).
    I’m glad that you focussed on the recent historical treaties and actions between Ukraine, Russia, NATO, the US and other players.
    People these days get their news from short, sensational news bites that our mainstream news outlets want to sell us for various reasons (some obvious some not). So while military equipment manufacturers and their proxies (many government officials both Dems and Republicans), WEF, Soros and others are loving the money this war is making them, most people in the US and elsewhere are being duped. Many Israeli political pundits and my own colleagues who fight antisemites sadly also swallowed the kool -aid. Of course some called me a Putin lover and worse. Some considered the Ukrainians heroic along with their ‘Jewish’ leader. I tried to use logic to explain to them that Zelensky is a cocaine addict who is acting like a hero and is paid well to do so. He and is oligarch friends have taken a page out of the PA. Just like Abbas and Arafat before him, he begs the world for money and aid (especially military aid), pockets most of the $ and uses his poor citizens as pawns in a war that most don’t want. When I posted 2 or 3 multi-million $ estates that Zelensky owned (one near President Trump’s in Florida) I was told ‘Now isn’t the time to post such things’. In fact NOW is exactly the time to post such things. Unfortunately (as you know) our mainstream media refuses to do so, so it falls on people like us. In fact if you check some of the real Russian blogs (they are in Russian), they will show you large recent demonstrations in Kiev where Ukrainians have had enough of Zelensky and his Nazi gang’s war with Russia. There have been numerous peace offerings by Putin which have been dismissed (mostly by the US! – again not publicized by the MSM).
    What you did was put this ‘invasion’ by Russia in context. So important to do! How many times do we read articles by antisemites who call Israel a militant country who took over arab land in 1967. Now they are called occupiers. That is, they start their argument at the end of the 6 day war. A war that we all know was initiated by Israel’s arab neighbours and supported by many. BTW Ukraine never said a word in defence of Israel then or since. My point being that factual context is not only important, it’s required or one can’t formulate a legitimate point of view on anything.
    One last point: On many incidents over time I’ve learned that it’s also very important to put yourself in someone else’s shoes prior to rendering a judgement. Of course your readers recall the Bay of Pigs fiasco when Russia put some missiles in Cuba. President Kennedy rightfully flipped out. Cuba is just a few miles away from the US mainland. We almost has a WWIII on our hands. Now the shoe is on the other foot. As you pointed out, they had an agreement whereby Ukraine would never join NATO because Russia didn’t want NATO missiles, jets and other military equipment near their border. So the CIA installs dozens of top secret, super dangerous bio labs in Ukraine as well as the largest nuclear plant in Europe in Ukraine. If you were Putin what would you do?

  23. What takes precedence? How about “life”?

    Anger Mounts as Russian Draftees Thrown Into Battle Without Training, Equipment
    By Anastasia Tenisheva
    Updated: Oct. 18, 2022

  24. Very nicely described.

    As to the the final conclusion that

    This would enable it to end the war on a high note.

    the West does not want the war to end on a high note, they want it to end with regime change in Russia. Ironically, it should be recognized that there is a slowly expanding process of regime change sweeping across the West instead. As the economic war has failed to achieve anything but a devastation of the West, the military campaign will soon, hopefully, run out of support as these regime changes will either result in the pursuit of better policies, or face the likelihood of the newly installed regimes being, themselves, regime changed once again.