International relations are the relations established between states or other actors on the international arena to ensure peaceful coexistence, cooperation and possibility of mutual development. International community is the totality of states which are willing to participate in the global decision-making. With all developed and developing nations striving to provide better standards of living and quality of life for their citizens, the international community thinks globally following the same purpose.
However, nowadays conflicts are not rare cases in the world. The world continues to face the threats of terrorist attacks and civil wars. Lots of territorial, ethnical, and religious tear apart countries and lead to thousands of civilian casualties. This means that international community has failed to fulfill its main purpose of peace-keeping and conflict prevention. International relations and the existing order do not satisfy some of the states. Taking into account that some countries have larger military potential and influence on the world order, they can succeed in conflict management better than others. In this context, interventions of the international community in order to stop wars and massacres in belligerent states are justified and needed. They are intended to bring peace and settle the dispute between rivals. Both realism and liberalism approve humanitarian intervention if there are specific grounds therefor. Liberals see it as their moral duty to stop humanitarian catastrophe and save people from the real threat of death. Realists found the intervention necessary based on the legitimate grounds. Therefore, “the ultimate goal is to reconcile the realist’s legitimate objections with the liberal’s legitimate moral obligations; to avoid abuse but to protect the unprotected” (Seay, 2007).
However, there is also some criticism to this point of view. No country in the world can understand the nature of the conflict better than those who are parties thereto. Thus the international community is doomed to take one side to the conflict and intervene observing its interests. Many experts argue that this can lead to further escalation of the conflict, its termination to explode with a new force, and new casualties among civilians.
There is no universal algorithm how to act in crisis or conflict situation. When a conflict appears between states, international community tries to be as less involved as possible. However, when it is becoming a regional or global threat, other countries should intervene. Such situations happened a lot of times during the past decade. Conflicts in Libya and Syria required international intervention in order to end humanitarian suffering. However, long time ago there was no conflict so close to borders of the integrated Europe.
Ukraine-Russia conflict became a precedent for international humanitarian law. Formally the conflict was not recognized as a military act or intervention of one country into the territory of the other. However, Ukraine’s territorial integrity was violated by Russia due to “silent” annexing of Crimea despite the fact that all the intergovernmental and international organizations proclaim non-interference into the domestic affairs and respect to sovereignty. Some of the population of Ukraine, mostly young people saw themselves as a part of European family and were eager to put an end to dependency and influence of Russia. Central and Western Ukraine became united in their aspirations and views on the future.
However, association with the EU was not the only cause of revolution. Ukraine and Russia became independent at the same time sharing the legacy of the biggest country that had been threatening the world during 70 years of its existence. Russia became the successor of the USSR, receiving all the wealth, as well as debts. Despite losing direct influence on the newly established republics, Russia has managed to keep its influence on the majority of them. Thus despite gaining independence former Soviet republics were developing using the model that existed in the USSR. Corruption, oligarchy and injustice are common for these states till now. Ukrainians from west and central parts wanted new life, European standards of living and better future for their children but South-Eastern Ukraine felt more attached to Russia. They shared opinion that Russia is a “big brother” and entrance into the Customs Union would bring more benefits than association with the EU.
This conflict threatened to become a civil war between pro-European and pro-Russian Ukrainians. Several cities on the east of Ukraine started claiming for independence and proclaimed their desired to be separated from Ukraine. Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic are recognized as extremist and terrorist organizations in Ukraine. Ukraine started anti-terrorist operation trying to tackle problem on its own without announcing the state of war. However, it puts at risk the possibility of reconciliation and may lead to lingering conflict. Despite rounds of Minsk negotiations, where representatives of all the parties were present, the cease-fire regime has failed and military activity is now renewed again.
There are lots of human rights violation precedents in southeast Ukraine, “including shelling, executions, arbitrary and illegal detentions, torture, ill-treatment, human trafficking and the lack of justice and accountability, as well as deprivation of economic and social rights” (‘Persistent and Grave’ Human Rights Violations in Eastern Ukraine – UN Report,” 2015). Fighting between Ukraine and Russia seems to turn out to be the worst humanitarian crisis seen in Ukraine. Around 10 civilians are killed daily on its eastern part. There are numerous internally displaced people who no money and no place to live. Lots of villages are left without gas, electricity and water. Under such conditions, the international community intervention in the name of peace-keeping is necessary.
The UN Security Council, namely its standing members such as the U.S., the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France, adopted some resolutions concerning Ukrainian crisis. The EU participated in negotiations and regularly provides financial assistance. The world powers’ responsibility to protect and their willingness to support Ukraine in an exceptional hardship period is obvious. However, Ukrainian crisis has become a platform for demonstrating their power for the U.S. and Russia. Both countries have considerable military potential and try to establish control over Ukraine due to its perfect geographic location. Moreover, Ukraine has always being a subject of geopolitical interests of both states. “Instead of being consistent on humanitarian aid and intervention, the United States warned Russia that any further intervention in Ukraine, including under the pretence of delivering humanitarian aid would be viewed as “an invasion of Ukraine” noted Clackson (2014).
Moreover, as Petr Kopka (2015) wrote “one year since the military conflict in Ukraine started, we are now better able to comprehend the inherent weaknesses of today’s international security architecture.” Such organizations as the OSCE which specializes on the conflict prevention and conflict management, demonstrated their inability for prompt and decisive actions. The presence of the special monitoring mission in Ukraine did not help in investigations and conflict resolution. This proves that international security architecture has become inveterate. This can put into question the world order after World War II and the security of the world. International organizations which include members with polar interests can no longer serve as guarantors of peace and security.
Clackson, A. (2015). “Humanitarian Intervention” in Iraq and Ukraine: American Double Standards. Global Research. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/humanitarian-intervention-in-iraq-and-ukraine-american-double-standards/5395478
Kopka, P. (2015). Military Conflict in Ukraine Ushered in a New Era of Dangerous Multipolarity. Russia Direct. Retrieved from http://www.russia-direct.org/opinion/military-conflict-ukraine-ushered-new-era-dangerous-multipolarity
“Persistent and Grave’ Human Rights Violations in Eastern Ukraine – UN Report.” (2015). UN News Center. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51016#.VaSjraQ9-L0
Seay, M. (2007). Realism, Leberalism and Humanitarian Intervention: Is There a Middle Ground? MSc Human Rights and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved from http://iars.org.uk/sites/default/files/2007_Research%20Essay_%20Humanitarian%20Intervention.pdf