The Crimea Crisis – An International Law Perspective

Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (Heidelberg Journal of International Law) 74/2 (2014), 367-391

26 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2014 Last revised: 15 Jul 2015

See all articles by Christian Marxsen

Christian Marxsen

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

Date Written: November 7, 2014

Abstract

In February and March 2014 Ukraine was literally overrun by a chain of events that eventually led to an incorporation of Crimea into Russian territory. A joint endeavor by Crimean and Russian authorities used the internal conflict in Ukraine to deprive the Ukrainian government of its control over Crimea, to hold a referendum, and to declare the independence of Crimea. Already on the day after the declaration of independence Russia formally recognized Crimea as an independent state, and the Crimean parliament requested Crimea to be admitted to Russia. Soon after that, the accession treaty was signed and within only a few more days all Russian constitutional requirements for an accession of Crimea to Russia were fulfilled.

All parties to the conflict refer to international law to justify their positions. The Crimean authorities and Russia claim a legal basis for a Russian intervention in Crimea and a right to secession while the majority of states rejects that claim. How, after all, do the actions towards Crimea’s secession have to be qualified under international law? To which extent has Russia violated international law and what is the current status of Crimea?

In order to address these questions, this paper starts with a brief introduction into the background of the current escalation (I.) and then reviews the legal obligations between Ukraine and Russia regarding their territorial integrity and the prohibition of the use and threat of force (II.). Third, it discusses the legality of the Russian intervention in Crimea (III.), and, fourth, the Crimean secession from Ukraine (IV.). Answers to the questions raised will then be provided in the Conclusion (V.).

Suggested Citation

Marxsen, Christian, The Crimea Crisis – An International Law Perspective (November 7, 2014). Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (Heidelberg Journal of International Law) 74/2 (2014), 367-391. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2520530

Christian Marxsen (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law ( email )

Im Neuenheimer Feld 535
69120 Heidelberg, 69120
Germany

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