Ukraine: NATO Bloc Has Neither Moral Authority Nor Credibility to Judge Russia, Ex-UN Expert Says
12:35 GMT 26.02.2022 (Updated: 09:23 GMT 18.11.2022)
While the US and its NATO allies are bashing Russia over its "special military operation" into Ukraine, they remain silent about their own wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, to name but a few, says retired UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order Alfred-Maurice de Zayas.
Sputnik: The US and European press have called Russia's "special operation" to protect Donbass "the biggest European assault since 1945." Havr they forgotten about NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia between 24 March 1999 and 10 June 1999? Does the collective West have any moral authority to lecture Russia?
Alfred de Zayas: The corporate media publishes what it wants, disseminates “fake news” and suppresses dissenting opinions. Double standards are common, and hyperbole as in the quote above demonstrates that the media has little interest in the truth and prefers to advance a political agenda of sensationalism and vulgar Russophobia.
On the other hand, and as a professor of international law, I must affirm that any use of force without the approval of the UN Security Council entails a violation of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. [Russia's special operation invokes Article 51, Chapter VII, of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council of Russia and in pursuance of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics – Sputnik].
At the same time, I must recognise that NATO has breached the UN Charter on numerous occasions.
In fact, NATO is not a “defensive” organisation but on the contrary, an organisation for offensive actions. NATO countries have committed the crime of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
Not only does NATO lack moral authority, it also lacks credibility, since it has disseminated “fake news” and false narratives in preparation for all its wars of aggression. As such it would be interesting to examine the possible application of the Nuremberg principles and the Nuremberg judgment to NATO. Article 9 of the London Agreement of 8 August 1945 laid down the statute of the Nuremberg Tribunal and established the legal concept of a “criminal organisation.”
To the extent that the land, navy and air forces of NATO countries have engaged in activities contrary to the Statute of Rome, the International Court of Justice may have to investigate whether these countries and NATO have breached Articles 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the Statute.
Sputnik: Does Russia's recognition of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics have historic and juridical precedents? Why did the US lash out at Russia for re-unifying Crimea and recognising Donetsk and Lugansk, while it recognised Kosovo and redrew the map of Yugoslavia in 1999? What's behind this historical amnesia?
Alfred de Zayas: The US applies international law à la carte. Today so, tomorrow so. The US understands international law as a geopolitical tool, which is to be used and abused as necessary. The right of self-determination of peoples is anchored in Articles 1 and 55 of the UN Charter and can be considered peremptory international law, i.e. jus cogens.
Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights stipulate the right of self-determination of all peoples. Certainly the populations of Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk are “peoples” for purposes of the ICCPR and ICESCR.
Sputnik: Why did the US, UK, and EU snub the Minsk Agreements, which they themselves approved and quoted on multiple occasions, for a whopping eight years?
Alfred de Zayas
: The political calculation behind the systematic violation of the Minsk Agreements was to prolong the conflict, perhaps in the expectation that the governments of Lugansk and Donetsk would collapse or give up
. Article 11 of the 2015 Agreement obliged Ukraine to negotiate with the authorities of Lugansk and Donetsk. It did not envisage recognition of their right to secede, but it did require adjustments that would grant autonomous status to these provinces.
Unfortunately, OSCE failed to ensure implementation of Article 11
of the Minsk Agreements, and President Zelensky himself said he would not implement it because it was “favourable” to Russia and unfavourable for Ukraine. However, that entailed a violation of the principle pacta sunt servanda
(art. 26 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties). Such a material breach of the treaty by Ukraine made it legal and legitimate for Russia to withdraw from it (art. 60 VCLT).
Sputnik: Why have the Western media been silent on the Ukrainian government's atrocities in Donbass? Several Western independent journalists and freelance photographers chronicled the disaster in Eastern Ukraine. What's behind thIS "selective humanity" and "selective justice"?
Alfred de Zayas: The Western media is not what it was 50 or 60 years ago. The media conglomerates are there to support the geopolitical agendas of governments. A journalist who publishes what is not “politically correct” will be fired. One must rely on “alternative” media such as Greyzone, Truthout, Consortium News, Counterpunch, Democracy Now, Push Back, etc. in order to access information that is systematically suppressed by our “free” press. I say “our” because I am an American citizen. But even in Switzerland, and I am Swiss since 2017, the mainstream media such as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Le Temps and La Tribune de Genève are largely aligned with and play the game with CNN, Fox, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Deutsche Welle, etc.
Sputnik: Why did the Western media and politicians turn a blind eye to the glorification of Nazism in Ukraine as well as making Stepan Bandera, the infamous leader of the OUN-UPA, the Ukrainian "patriot" and "hero," despite well-recorded crimes by the OUN-UPA against Jews and Russians, and the massacre of Poles in Volhynia and Galicia?
Alfred de Zayas
: As there are "fake news" there is also "fake history." George Bernard Shaw once wrote in his book “Everyone’s political what’s what”
that manufactured heroes, myths and political lies were "die hards" – and would only die from a natural death, only after they were no longer of political use. But as long as a myth – as that around Bandera
– could deliver useful political results, it would be repeated ad nauseam
until people took it for granted, as second nature.
Worse even than fake history is fake law, because by sanctifying a political leader like Bandera, his actions acquired an aura of “legality” and a kind of metaphysical legitimacy.
Sputnik: What's your take on the fact that regardless of all these controversial issues, the US and its NATO allies provided weapons and military training to the Ukrainian government?
Alfred de Zayas: As Professor Jeffrey Sachs recently wrote in the Financial Times: "The US would not be very happy were Mexico to join a China-led military alliance… Neither the US nor Russia wants the other's military on their doorstep."
A week ago at the Munich security conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said "if Russia wants less NATO at its borders, they get the opposite, they get more NATO." This was a needless provocation, throwing down the gauntlet at Putin.
Meanwhile, the US and NATO have been adding fuel to the fire since the illegal Maidan coup d’état, which is at the origin of all this misery. Obviously the delivery of tonnes of weapons to Ukraine was a very clear threat against Russia and contrary to the UN Charter, article 2(4) of which prohibits not only the use of force, but also the “threat” of the use of force.
In this sense, Russia had reason to feel threatened and could invoke pertinent provisions of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. As an American, who feels vicariously responsible for decisions of my government, my heart goes out to the people of Ukraine and of the Donbass. It is a disgrace that the Ukrainians have been abused and misused by NATO, sacrificed on the altar of imperial geopolitics.
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is the author of "Building a Just World Order" (2021).