Zurich, Switzerland (Weltexpress). When the illegal war against Serbia was instigated by NATO, the old federal government, Kohl/Kinkel, was still in office.
So far I was of the opinion that the Schröder/Fischer government was responsible for the German part of the war against Serbia. That is only partly true. According to the „Basic Law“ or Grundgesetz, the Bundeswehr is a parliamentary army, and that is where the responsibility lies. One of the last official acts of the Kohl government, which had already been voted out, was an urgent request to parliament to agree to the military intervention against Milosevic. (1)
Rita Süssmuth, then President of the Bundestag, convened Parliament just four days later. What was strikingly unusual in the debate was that there was no longer any opposition and that the speakers of all parties, with the exception of the PDS, outdid each other in sharpness and verbal subtleties for this war effort.
The West, led by the US, with the help of professional services and PR agencies, had created such acrimonious anti-Milosevic and pro-Kosovo sentiment in its zone of influence that the German government apparently had no choice but to howl with the wolves if one did not want to be pushed into the ‘Milosevic-Serbian-criminal corner’ that had been set in motion and supported by the media for months.
NATO’s war depended on Germany’s approval of this mission. The Federal Republic was the last of the then 16 NATO countries, 15 had already agreed to the mission. The ‘NATO principle of unanimity’ applied.
Could one have said no then and the war would not have happened?
The international pressure at the time was so great that Germany did not have to ‘stand aside’ and prove its ‘loyalty to the alliance’. The arguments in the German Bundestag at that time are strikingly reminiscent of the current political statements in favor of increasingly severe sanctions.
Foreign Minister Kinkel gave the Federal Government’s introductory speech in the Bundestag – a passionate speech for the deployment of the Bundeswehr. (2) All politicians at that time were aware that a war of aggression grossly violates international law; By the way, the Grundgesetz as well.
All European governments, including Switzerland, which is committed to neutrality, are feeling similar pressure today. Together with the EU, they are currently drawn into an unprecedented spiral of sanctions.
Well, the Kohl government, which was still in office, had created such a mood in the German parliament that a few weeks later the successor Schröder/Fischer government was no longer able to get out. (3) Could this government have said no? In theory, yes.
When I think that Switzerland is now supporting all the sanctions imposed by the EU and the USA and is thus apparently unnecessarily giving up its commitment to neutrality, I can only imagine that the pressure on people and governments today must be enormous.
The population ducks its head at this barrage of media, which is currently being orchestrated day and night by a large number of agencies. You don’t know what to believe. The choice of words between people becomes more cautious, the distrust in everyday relationships greater. Confidence in one’s own healthy reactions dwindles. The apt writing by Alfred Adler, one of the pioneers of depth psychology, „Die andere Seite“ („The other side“) was valid in 1919 and is valid in 2022.
So much for the mass psychology question.
We know that in Rambouillet, in this mood, Serbia was given as an ultimatum that NATO wanted to exercise control, with many implications, over Serbian state territory. In these so-called ‘negotiations’, international law was trampled underfoot.
The military alliance NATO, which has mutated from a purely defensive alliance to a self-proclaimed offensive alliance, deliberately ignored the UN resolutions on Serbia and Kosovo, which did exist. Mind you, NATO equips itself with autocratic powers under international law, represents its own ‘international law’ for the ‘international community’, it fulfills ‘sacred’ duties, while supplying half the world with war and weapons. And anyone who violates the ‘rules-based order’ set up by NATO has recently lost the right to be the elected president of a state, for example. Yes, such a disqualified president who is to be ostracized internationally – Milosevic was a role model, President al-Assad was yesterday, President Putin hears it today – obviously doesn’t have the right to defend himself and his people, let alone to be president not to be. Diplomacy is suspended.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published an article on law, rights and rules (4) that is worth reading about this and other violations of the law. Sergey Lavrov reminds that international law applies to everyone and that no organization or state can rise above this law, make its own rules, change them at will and depending on the situation, as the West is constantly doing. Russia and many other countries were abiding by international law, and he added diplomatically, ‘please go back to the law’.
And here we come to the question of whether Russia itself is complying with existing international law with its ‘military operation’ in Ukraine.
The legal opinion of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, in The Hague of July 22, 2010 on the secession of Kosovo, which was carried out unilaterally as a result of the NATO attack on Serbia, gives a clear answer. (5) How did this answer come about and what role does it play in the current situation?
Russia and Serbia, among others, warned of the illegal war against Serbia and the subsequent secession of Kosovo as well as the shameful reaction of the West to these injustices at the UN and at the ICJ. The verdict was eagerly awaited internationally.
Instead of taking NATO to task, because Serbia had not attacked anyone and the NATO alliance case could not be asserted, the International Court of Justice in The Hague came up with an opinion that was comfortable for the West at the time. The unilateral secession of Kosovo from Serbia is compatible with international law. That was unexpected and new.
With this report, a precedent was created that is later important for the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation and now for the recognition of the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics by Russia.
The opinion of the ICJ puts the territorial integrity of a state on the same level as the people’s right to self-determination. (6) The people’s right to self-determination is actually intended to support a colony in separating itself from the colonial masters, such as Great Britain or France, to make independent. Now, however, Kosovo was not a colony of Serbia but an integral part of a state. Alfred de Zayas writes that international law has ‘developed’ and of course the Catalans or the Kurds also have the same right to self-determination. (7)
So Russia acted correctly under international law when it accepted Crimea into its territory without violence, which was preceded by a referendum.
However, the West’s press organs are persistently talking about an annexation, which means that from this point in time at the latest, tendentious reporting that defames Russia has become the norm.
How does Russia respect international law in the Donbass case?
The People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk had already applied to join the newly created Russian Federation when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. Russia had other concerns at the time, so both oblasts stayed with Ukraine. From then on, their Russian population, because they were Russian and not Ukrainian, was discriminated against in various ways by the Ukrainian authorities and even fought by the army.
As is well known, NATO, which now has 27 members, has gradually and provocatively moved to the Russian border in recent years.
At the beginning of 2022, the USA created pressure worldwide, for example by predicting a Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 16, 2022, which was effective in the media. The OSCE present actually observed and documented a massive shelling against the two republics by the Ukrainian army along the ceasefire line during these days. Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke of more than 100,000 refugees, most of whom fled to Russia as a result of the massive attacks.
The republics of Donetsk and Luhansk once again decided to secede from Ukraine and submitted an application for recognition by the Russian Federation. Due to the urgency, the Duma in Moscow decided on February 15 to grant this request and asked President Putin for his approval. He signed the relevant documents a few days later on February 21, 2022, visible to all the world, with the indication that Ukraine was not willing to implement the Minsk Agreement. The treaty between the People’s Republics and Russia expressly provided for mutual assistance in addition to the intention of friendship and cooperation. Specifically, it was agreed that the armed forces of the Russian Federation could perform “peacekeeping functions in the territory” of the two People’s Republics. This applies from February 21, 2022.
At the latest now, the increasingly sustained shelling by the armies of Ukraine was no longer a civil war under international law, but an act of war between the states of Ukraine on the one hand and the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and the Russian Federation, which have become independent, on the other, with Ukraine clearly being the aggressor is.
If Ukraine had ceased hostilities by this point at the latest and had returned to the negotiating table, the military operation by Russia might have been avoided. However, since this has not been the case to date, Russia and the sovereign and autonomous territories recognized by Russia claim the right to collective defense as laid down in Article 51 of the UN Charter. (8)
So much for the legal situation.
Since Russia is very strict about international law, it should be pointed out at this point that the Federal Republic of Germany is playing with fire. If the new Economics and Environment Minister Robert Habeck and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, inexperienced, together with Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, continue to campaign for massive arms deliveries to Ukraine and rattle their sabers too much, Russia, conforming to international law, could invoke Articles 53.2 and 107 of the UN Charter.
Russia is not concerned with expanding its territory, but with protecting the Russian minorities in Ukraine, securing its own borders and creating the conditions for negotiations about its goals on an equal footing.
The Russian Federation has complied with applicable international law, both with the inclusion of Crimea and the recognition of Lugansk and Donetsk republics, and the ‘military operation’ in Ukraine is legitimized as a defensive measure by Article 51 of the UN Charter.
So much for legality.
Every word that George Friedman uttered about American politics past, present and future during his speech at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in the spring of 2015 is to be taken literally and seriously. For example: “The United States will continue to fight wars”! (9)
(1) German Bundestag, 13th electoral term, printed paper 13/11469, application by the Federal Government of October 12, 1998
(2) German Bundestag, plenary minutes 13/248, shorthand report, 248th session, Bonn, October 16, 1998
(3) German Bundestag, plenary minutes 2:43 p.m., shorthand report, 43rd session, Bonn, June 11, 1999
(4) Lavrov, Sergei, About Law, Rights and Rules, Questions of the Times No.16, July 13, 2021
(5) Wikipedia, Legal Opinion on the Validity of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence, https://de.wikipedia.org./w/index.php? Title=Rechtsgutachten_zur_Validigkeit_der_Independence_Declaration_Kosovos&oldid=220207411, retrieved on 03/30/2022
(6) Röper, Thomas, Ukraine Crisis 214, p.151 ff., J-K-Fischer Verlag, 2019
(7) Prof. Dr. Alfred de Zayas and Prof. Dr. Axel Schönberger, letters to the editor, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of March 1, 2022, p. 25
(8) Baud, Jacques, “US policy has always been to prevent Germany and Russia from working more closely together,” Current Events, No. 4/5, March 15, 2022
(9) Friedman, George, Paper presented at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, February 2015. with German simultaneous translation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1hn5LRT5dw
The above article by Wolfgang van Biezen was translated into English by Christoph Merten.