|A pro-Russian separatist near the town of Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner|
"I spent the weekend talking to leaders across Europe, and I think the world is largely united in recognizing that the steps Russia has taken are a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty, their territorial integrity — that they're a violation of international law (..)" -- President Obama
Vlad Putin must have laughed when he heard the above statement. He knows that even though "States face an international environment in which complying with international law is valued and noncompliance is in almost all situations a negative" (Ian Hurd in Law and the practice of diplomacy) the West may not act because the history of contemporary events shows him that states are often more than willing to ignore the international law when it suits their national interests.
So, Putin will proceed with his ambitions in Eastern-Ukraine.
Pacta sunt servanda
"The principle of pacta sunt servanda (agreements should be honoured) is the central norm of international law and politics." (idem)
Tsar Vlad has been around in politics long enough to know that this principle is not always complied by states. For instance:
The Declaration of San Remo Peace Conference, the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate (a binding legal instrument) recognised "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country". The UN Charter (article 80), drafted upon its creation in 1945, clearly states that the principle of recognising the validity of the rights of states acquired under existing international instruments was to be respected.
The West has incessantly been violating the international law & agreements with utter impunity: it gave land to the Jewish people to form their Homeland after it retrieved 80% of the territory designated to them in the Mandate to appease Arabs (first illegality); then it intended to divide the remaining 20% with more Arabs (second illegality) and when it didn't work (due to the Arab rejection, representing, thus, an annulment of the UN Resolution 181) the West supported the establishment of a Palestinian State for Arabs (third illegality, because the international instruments and law had established that Palestine was the Historical Homeland of the Jewish People alone).
With the above in mind how can president Putin feel encouraged to comply with international agreements and laws? If in the comfort of his palace, drinking shots of vodka, he recalls how the West let the Serbian-Kosovars down (after having been persecuted, expropriated, slaughtered and subjected to dhimmitude for centuries by foreign Muslim forces); how it allowed China to occupy Tibet; how the West remains silent before the Kashmir-Jammu issue and how it played with many countries in Latin-America (giving rise to the leftist movements that practically stifled the region's social development); Vladimir Putin has grounds to believe that his Crimea move, and a possible East Ukraine incursion, will not bear major consequences (i.e. military action).
Pacta non sunt servanda: President Putin doesn't feel particularly compelled to comply with the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Council for Security and Co-operation in Europe Charter and the Budapest Memorandum; not when the international community keeps reminding the world that the principle of noncompliance can be upheld with impunity.
My sympathies go to the Ukrainians who will probably be let down by the West.
Europe and the US might let Kiev go under not because they do not wish to help (for they do) but because their vulnerabilities have been exposed by Vlad Putin: the EU realised that its successive cuts in the Defence budget (to be able to spend more on welfare) depleted its military capabilities (and the UK and France who are the most capable military powers [representing 50% of the EU's military capability] are engaged in more pressing missions in Africa); the US doesn't have the appetite to get involved in yet another conflict (and even if it had, some analysts say that it would need at least 6 months to prepare for it) and would rather focus on diplomacy - which would only take us back to the point made in the beginning of this article.
"States' references to law and lawfulness in explaining their actions often mask rule-violation" -- idem
Vladimir Putin knows all the above and so he derides the double-standards of those who threaten him and his regime...