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The exception proves the rule: why the West should support the confiscation of the assets of the aggressor country

Monday, 10 April 2023, 18:30

Since April 1, 2023, the Russian Federation has been heading the UN Security Council.  Many of the world's media and politicians noted with bitterness the irony of such an event.  The country that unleashed the largest war in Europe in more than half a century will for some time decide on the security of the whole world.

Ritual instead of essence

Russia's presence in the UN Security Council is a symptom of the state of affairs in international relations.  Unfortunately, the world continues to cling to the rubble of the order that Russia has already destroyed.  And the sooner democracies realize that undermining the security system requires an adequate response, the more lives will be saved.

The desire against all odds to follow the accepted procedures plays against the free world.  The aggressors see this and act outside of any rules, and remember them only when it is beneficial to them.  All this weakens international institutions and deprives them of the peacekeeping function for which they were created.  It is noteworthy that supporting Ukraine in this war required the creation of new initiatives such as Ramstein, while the old organizations were not courageous enough to act.


Western partners consider certain principles unshakable.  But the question is, which is more dangerous - turning a blind eye to how others break the rules, or making an exception on your own to punish the aggressors?  One such principle that has become a stumbling block is sovereign immunity.  Following it prevents the seizure of the assets of the Russian Federation to compensate for the losses of Ukraine.  However, history teaches us that military conflicts are not the time to cling to traditions.  On the contrary, it is in such a situation that it is necessary to revise the rules that one of the parties has already violated.

History changes the rules

The canonical example is World War II.  According to its results, the winning countries received not only reparations, but also access to German patents, which formally violated the accepted approaches to copyright.  At the same time, it was not only about state-owned companies associated with the military-industrial complex, but also about a number of private organizations.  Exceptions were necessary.

A completely different situation is the Atlantic Charter.  One of the documents that allowed the formation of the anti-Hitler coalition and outlined its principles.  But also this document, thanks to the provision on the "Right of nations to choose their form of government", launched the process of decolonization throughout the world, and as a result led to the collapse of the British Empire.  In fact, then the world finally abandoned the right of some nations to impose their will on others.  Today, it is precisely this right that the Russian Federation is trying to regain, and the world continues to defend the position of this state in an obviously outdated system of coordinates.

Another important historical episode is the creation of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  The need for it arose long ago.  However, for a long time the world was not ready for the fact that the leaders of countries could be put on trial for committing grave acts.  Unfortunately, the world had to face the horrors of the conflicts in Rwanda and Yugoslavia to support the creation of such an institution.  Russia's war against Ukraine has already broken every conceivable record of brutality in recent decades.  However, doubts about whether the assets of a state that commits and openly admits war crimes can be confiscated are acceptable to some.

Coercion to execution

The current position of the partner countries is that Russia is guilty, but it is almost impossible to make it pay for its actions.  It should not be.  Moreover, Ukraine is already paying a huge price for winning a war that it did not start.

The international compensation mechanism, which Ukrainian and international lawyers are working on, is an opportunity to compensate only for material damage.  He will not return life, health, time.  But even in such a limited form, it allows you to achieve justice.  And it is obvious that Russia should pay for its criminal actions.  And if it refuses to do so, then its resources must be confiscated.  Accordance with this is not a rejection of principles, but their strengthening.

The world is changing, becoming more global and forced to find coercive tools for criminal states.  At the same time, the security system itself must also change.  As countries once abandoned the idea of ​​colonies, so now the special rights of the Russian Federation to world security should be abandoned.  A terrorist cannot be a guarantor of peace, otherwise there will be no peace left.

Disclaimer: Articles reflect their author’s point of view and do not claim to be objective or to explore every aspect of the issues they discuss. The Ukrainska Pravda editorial board does not bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided, or its interpretation, and acts solely as a publisher. The point of view of the Ukrainska Pravda editorial board may not coincide with the point of view of the article’s author.

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