In his Sept. 3 interview with Channel One and the Associated Press, President Putin produced a statement regarding the situation in Syria, which instantly reinstated Russia as an ethical and legal leader within the global community.
In that interview, Vladimir Putin clearly and unambiguously defined any use of force without the authorization of the UN Security Council as aggression:
“I want to point out one absolutely fundamental fact. In accordance with international law, only the Security Council of the United Nations may authorize the use of weapons against a sovereign state. Attempts to justify any other pretexts or methods of using force against an independent, sovereign state are unacceptable, and they can only be characterized as aggression.”
The points made by the Russian president are entirely accurate and correct.
Article 39 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, “Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression,” states that “The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
A detailed legal definition of aggression was approved by Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of the General Assembly on Dec. 14, 1974, namely that “Aggression is the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations, as set out in this Definition.”
Thus, in accordance with the basic norms of international law, any military attack on Syria would clearly be an act of aggression.
Therefore, ten states ready to attack Syria while circumventing the UN Security Council, have already proven their intent to act as aggressors in a precise legal sense, and also pose an explicit threat to international peace and security, the preservation of which, in accordance with Chapter V of the UN Charter, is the main task of the UN Security Council and the UN as a whole. Indeed, the very preamble to the UN Charter refers to “the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
The next day, Sept. 4, on the eve of the G20 summit, during a meeting in the Kremlin of the Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights, Vladimir Putin repeatedly correlated the imminent American military strike with aggression:
“The second thing I’d like to point out is that we’ve all been focused on the fact that the Congress and Senate are discussing authorizing the use of force. But this is a travesty of common sense and of any understanding of international law. No congress in any country has the right to authorize anything of the sort. What is it they’re authorizing? They’re authorizing aggression, because anything outside the scope of the UN Security Council is aggression, except for self-defense. Clearly Syria is not attacking the United States, so there is no question of self-defense, and anything else undertaken without the authorization of the United Nations is aggression. What the US Congress and Senate are currently doing is, in essence, legitimizing aggression, and we’re all glued to our TV screens waiting to see what decision they make. But what we need to be discussing is that this is fundamentally unacceptable.”
What did Vladimir Putin accomplish between Sept. 3 and 4, when he established Russia’s stance of characterizing the impending attack as an act of aggression?
The president put Russia on the correct course in every sense, while the US and Obama are not just transgressing international law, they can now almost be seen as consummate international criminals.