International Law

LOAC and the Crimea

By Robert Chesney
Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 4:06 PM

A disturbing news item:  it appears that Russian soldiers have killed at least one Ukrainian soldier at a Ukrainian military base in the Crimea, possibly heralding a violent resolution to the tense armed standoffs at various Ukrainian military facilities in freshly-departed territory.  Let's hope this was a one-off episode, not to be followed by higher-intensity violence.  That said, we might pause to ask about the legal context.  In my view the law of armed conflict already had come into play thanks to Russian occupation of part of the Ukraine's territory (not just the Crimea, but also a nearby natural gas terminal).  If it is true that Russian soldiers have now fired upon Ukrainian soldiers, then the case for LOAC's application has gotten still stronger.