Revelations of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Current Theories of War
1 Path to the Illegalization of War
The Catholic Church in the Middle Ages theorized war for the first time with its “just war theory,” which classified war into “a right war” and “a wrong war.” The former was a last resort for those with legitimate authority for the right reasons. The “theory of non-discrimination of war,” which accepted war as a means of conflict resolution, was advocated because it was difficult to distinguish between “a right war” and “a wrong war” in sovereign states since the 17th century, when the authority of the Church collapsed. Since the 19th century, the Napoleonic Wars have led to the rise of nationalist movements in various regions, and the damage caused by war became more severe. The Red Cross movement and other humanitarian relief efforts were developed in response to the need to protect wounded soldiers as nonmilitary personnel, and various treaties were signed to regulate how war was waged. However, the outbreak of World War I gave rise to a movement to scrutinize the laws of war. After World War I, the League of Nations was established and the Paris Peace Treaty was implemented. The Paris Peace Treaty prohibits war as a means of settling international disputes. However, the outbreak of World War II led to the establishment of the United Nations (UN). The UN has three war regulations. First, it prohibits the use of force to resolve conflicts. Second, the Security Council has the power to authorize the use of force for peacekeeping. This is a sort of revival of the just war theory in the sense that the Security Council judges whether a war is right or wrong. Third, the UN allows the use of force for self-defense. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine violates all three provisions. First, despite the prohibition on the use of force, Russia used force to attack Ukraine. Second, the Permanent Five (P5) of the Security Council are obligated to preserve peace as world policemen. Although Russia is one of the P5 members, it has invaded a neighboring country. Finally, Ukraine has the right to use force in self-defense.
In addition, after World War II, the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols stipulated the forms of war and their renunciations. Although Russia is a ratifier of the Geneva Conventions, it violates all of the following provisions: (1) protection of noncombatants; (2) prohibition of attacks on non-military targets; (3) prohibition of attacks on facilities, such as dams and power plants; and (4) prohibition of separating children from their parents.
2 Historical Relations between Ukraine and Russia
Ukraine has historically and constantly mixed the culture, history, and language of Russia in the East and the Catholic world in the West. Russian’s claim that Ukraine has bee a part of Russi from the beginning is false.
Ukraine originated in the 10th century Principality of Kiev-Lucy. Grand Duke Vladimir of Kiev was baptized as a Christian and prospered through trade with the Byzantine Empire. Ukraine was the cradle of Slavic Christianity. In the 13th century, the Principality of Moscow emerged after the Mongol Empire broke up the Principality of Kiev. The Moscow Principality, which was ruled by the Mongols, experienced a period of isolation for 200 years. Latin and Greek did not penetrate Moscow for a long time because the Bible was translated into Slavic languages in East Slavic countries at an early stage. Until modern times, studies in Europe were based on Latin and Greek, and people in Moscow who did not understand these languages were unable to learn Roman law and other European scholarship and cultures. This is why Russia still has values that are fairly different from those of the West. After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century, the Principality of Moscow claimed to be the third Rome after Constantinople as a Slavic hegemon, and subsequently, the Principality began to call itself “Russia,” the Latin reading of “Lucy.” Putin insists that Russia is the successor to the Principality of Kiev–Russia and that Ukraine must be united with Russia. However, the Kiev-Lucy Principality and the Principality of Moscow have nothing in common, and the Principality of Moscow merely declared itself as Russia. The Catholic states of Lithuania and Poland ruled current Ukraine after the decline of the Mongols in the 14th century. Only later, in the 17th and 18th centuries, did Russia begin to expand into and influence Ukraine.
After World War I, when the Russian Empire collapsed, the Ukrainian claimed it’s independence but this independence movement was crushed by the Bolshevik regime. In 1932, Stalin plundered the agricultural products of Ukraine—the breadbasket of Europe—to compensate for the Soviet Union’s poor agricultural harvest. This famine was known as the Holodomor. At least four million people died of starvation in Ukraine, but mentioning this was taboo under Soviet rule. After Ukraine gained independence, this incident became one of the causes for its grudge against Russia. The independence movement leader Bandera, who welcomed the Nazis as a liberation army during the Russo–German War, was considered a traitor in Russia. Putin refers to Zelensky as a neo-Nazi Bandera, for Putin an anti-Russian Ukrainian patriot is neo-Nazi regardless of it’s no association of Nazism. Gorbachev wanted to preserve the Soviet Union by granting autonomy, but in August 1991, Ukraine declared independence, other republics followed, and the Soviet Union collapsed. Putin believes that without Ukraine’s declaration of independence, Russia would have been able to maintain its goal of a Greater Russia. This is one of the reasons he is obsessed with Ukraine.
After independence, the Ukrainian economy collapsed because of the influx of cheap, good-quality goods from the West, and Ukraine’s GDP in 1994 fell to nearly half of its pre-independence level. This led to a pro-Russian faction in the eastern part of the country that conflicted with EU and NATO factions in the western part. Furthermore, the languages spoken in the eastern part of the country are completely different, with Russian spoken in the east while Ukrainian spoken in the west. The discord between the eastern and western parts of the country was reflected in the 2004 election, when the eastern part supported the pro-Russian candidate and the western part supported pro-EU and NATO candidate.
However, the Maidan Revolution of 2014 brought about drastic changes. In 2013, even pro-Russian Yanukovych advocated the need for an economic partnership with the EU, but Putin opposed this and forced Yanukovych to cancel the Economic Partnership Agreement, prompting Ukrainians to revolt and Yanukovych to flee to Russia. Putin illegally annexed Crimea and established a puppet government in Donetsk; however, the pro-Russian residents of Donetsk were shocked to learn that people had been killed due to aggression by the Russians they trusted. Consequently, the 2019 elections were no longer about pro-West vs. pro-Russia, and the issue was now related to how to join the EU and NATO.
In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Putin did not understand the anti-Russian nationalism in Ukraine, and Russia’s plan to capture Kiev in the first few weeks fell through; however, resistance on the Ukrainian side led to a protracted war. A massacre by Russian forces occurred on the outskirts of Kiev, and Ukrainians now consider both Russia and Putin completely deplorable. Putin engaged a policy of children kidnapping which led the arrest warrant for Putin by the International Criminal Court.
In Asia, Japan is the largest donor to Ukraine, and Ukrainians know the significance of geographically distant Japan’s support. In the absence of a functioning UN, it is important for Japan to continue supporting Ukraine while maintaining unity in the G7.
3 Lessons from the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Russia, which is primarily responsible for maintaining peace and stability worldwide, has invaded Ukraine in a clear violation of the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions by killing civilians and noncombatants and attacking non-military targets. Similar to the manner in which Putin invaded Ukraine on irrational grounds, that testified dictators could invade any country for irrational reasons. Peace should be achieved with clear guarantee that Russia will never invade Ukraine . Russia should be tried for the crime of starting a war, killing and wounding Ukrainian noncombatants, and the humanitarian crime of attacking non-military installations. Allowing Russia to win would result in the collapse of the international order. Putin has hinted at the use of nuclear weapons during the Ukrainian war. Japan has faced nuclear threats from both China and North Korea.
Peace can be accomplished through diplomatic, economic, and military powers. Discussions on the Japanese Constitution have centered on how to prevent Japan from becoming an aggressor. Henceforth, however, it is necessary to consider how Japan can protect itself and contribute to world peace and stability.
(JFIR secretariat is responsible for this summary)