Friday, April 28, 2023

Ban on Annexations Putin has Now Violated Allowed the Cold War to Remain Cold, Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 27 – The international order which arose after 1945 was based “on the idea of limiting rivalry between states,” an idea that “followed naturally from the principles of liberal democracy which are based on limiting domestic political struggles to non-violent forms,” according to Aleksandr Skobov.

            The Russian analyst concedes that “it wasn’t possible to completely eliminate violence from international relations at that time. The contradictions between ‘the players’ were simply too great. But some propositions were agreed to and were respected by all parties” (

            Among the most important of these was the ban on territorial annexations, Skobov says. That ban “was observed throughout the years of the Cold war, and it is precisely that ban which allowed that conflict to remain generally ‘cold.’” That is the ban that Vladimir Putin has concluded he can violate with impunity despite these broader implications.

            “History has shown,” the commentator concludes, “that over the course of long-term rivalries in which interstate violence is at least partially limited by legal norms and prohibitions, despotic social models lose out to democratic ones.” That is why the West assumed after 1991 that the demise of the remaining autocracies was inevitable, “a done deal.”

            Western leaders “assumed that the remaining autocracies would abide by the existing legal restrictions on violence and that when the latter lost within these restrictions, they would have no choice but to accept their historical defeat.” These leaders failed to understand that new autocrats had no intention to suffer defeats or to put up with these restrictions.

            For these autocrats, no one has the right to judge a state for what it does against its own population and “international law is nothing more than a beautiful package in which the strong wrap up their gangster agreements ‘according to their own concepts’ about ‘spheres of domination.’”

            “In short,” Skobov says, “law as such doesn’t exist at all. There is only power, the will to use it, and ‘interests.” And it is this picture of the world that is shared by many Chinese officials as the statement of the Chinese ambassador to Paris shows that Beijing has only partially denied and Vladimir Putin who denies no aspect of it.

        According to Skobov, “Putin’s conditions have long been known: the assignment to him of the occupied portion of Ukraine and the establishment of his actual protectorate over the rest of it, with complete control over Kyiv’s foreign and domestic policies.” Beijing may not be entirely happy by Putin’s timing, but it isn’t opposed to his logic.
               And to ensure that Beijing doesn’t try something along the same lines Putin has, Putin must be defeated in Ukraine and the ban on annexations at a minimum must be restored and maintained.

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