Legal Aspects of the Russian intervention in Georgia in August 2008
The Russian-Georgian conflict began on Aug. 7, 2008 with the assault of the autonomous region of South Ossetia by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. On Saturday, August 9, Russia sent reinforcements into South Ossetia in order to support the separatists and launched airstrikes in western Georgia, in areas that included against the military base in Senaki and military targets in the port of Poti and around the town of Zugdidi.
That afternoon, Georgia announced that it ordered its forces to a cease-fire in South Ossetia and asks Russia to begin talks to end the hostilities and build a path to peace. During this time, Russian troops had taken over large areas of the state and had control of the Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.
On Monday, 11 August, Moscow said that Georgia had not declared a cease-fire in South Ossetia on Sunday despite its declaration
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced on the same evening that Russian forces had occupied most of Georgia's territory, forcing Georgian troops to retreat and defend the capital. He also accused Russia of seeking "to replace the government in Tbilisi" and "control the supply routes of energy"
Moscow responded by saying that it had no intention of marching on to Tbilisi.
Russia's military response to the Georgian attack in South Ossetia was to "force Georgia to peace" and it, sent planes to bomb civilians and military targets across Georgia. Within days, nearly 20 000 men and several hundred tanks had crossed the Caucasus Mountains in the north. The Tbilisi International Airport was hit several times. Russian troops marched into the Georgian town of Gori and also to the port of Poti near the town of Zugdidi and around the military base in Senaki.
Was the intervention of Russia consistent with the Charter of the United Nations?
For the first time since 1991, Russia used military force against a sovereign State of Georgia. From the beginning of its intervention in South Ossetia and Georgia, Moscow has sought to justify its statement by referring to the its acts as self-defense, humanitarian intervention and a method to prevent war.
But was the military action that Russia took consistent with the international laws that were put down in the Charter of the United Nations?
Articles 2 and 4 of the UN Charter prohibits any form of recourse to armed force between the members of the United Nations, against the territorial integrity, against the independence of any State or any other manner that is inconsistent with the Purpose of the United Nations.
The Russian answer to Gerogia’s military assault on August 8 last is, in itself, a violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia. The Security Council reaffirms its resolution of 1667 on the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. Those acts also violated the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a State which is set in Articles Two and Seven. The Judgment of 1986 that the International Court of Justice ruled on for the case of Nicaragua was reaffirmed. This ruling enforces the principle that prohibits a State to have any direct or indirect involvement in the internal or external affairs of another State.
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