In remarks to journalists after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia is working to create an international order based on the U.N. Charter and international law:
“Russia and China pursue an independent and sovereign foreign policy. We jointly work to create a more just and democratic multipolar world order, which should be based on the central role of the U.N., its Security Council, international law, and the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter.”
That is false.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine contradicts the idea of a world order based on the leading role of the United Nations, U.N. Charter and international law.
On March 2, 2022, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the U.N. Charter and demanding that Russia halt its military offensive. The resolution was approved overwhelmingly, with 141 countries voting in favor, five voting against (Belarus, Syria, North Korea, Eritrea and Russia) and 35 abstaining.
The resolution stated:
“The General Assembly, Reaffirming the paramount importance of the Charter of the United Nations in the promotion of the rule of law among nations,
Deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter;
Deplores the 21 February 2022 decision by the Russian Federation related to the status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine as a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter.”
In a May 2022 briefing to the U.N. Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed the U.N.’s position, stating that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” violates “the Charter of the United Nations.”
In a September 2022 address to the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. President Joe Biden accused Moscow of launching a “brutal” war in Ukraine, adding that Russia “invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map” and “shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter.”
On October 12, 2022, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It condemned “the attempted illegal annexation of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine,” stating that it was “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter” and that “the unlawful actions of the Russian Federation … have no validity under international law.”
The resolution was adopted with 143 member nations voting in favor, five voting against (Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria) and 35 abstaining.
According to John B. Bellinger III, adjunct senior fellow for international and national security law at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York- based think-tank, Russia's invasion cannot be justified under international law as an act of self-defense or humanitarian intervention and thus violates the U.N. Charter:
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violates Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter, a central tenet of the charter that requires U.N. member states to refrain from the ‘use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.’
The suggestion by President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials that Russia’s use of force is justified under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter [which permits self-defense by a U.N. member state] has no support in fact or law.”
The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine issued a report in October 2022 stating that “war crimes and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022.” The report stated that Russian troops were responsible for the vast majority of those violations.
On February 23, 2023, the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution reiterating its demand “that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.” The resolution was adopted 141-7, with 32 abstentions.
On March 17, 2023, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the Russian President, accusing them of being responsible for illegally deporting children from Ukraine:
“President of the Russian Federation is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation (under articles 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute).”
According to the ICC, Putin is responsible for these war crimes, both as a direct participant and as a leader whose subordinates committed these crimes, with his connivance or approval.