23 July 2020
Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal monitors the three armed conflicts that are currently taking place in Ukraine, namely the non-international armed conflict (NIAC) between Ukraine and two separatist groups in eastern Ukraine; the international armed conflict (IAC) between Ukraine and the Russian Federation; and the military occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
For each conflict, RULAC provides information about its classification, parties and applicable international law. Each conflict has been updated to include recent developments, which do not affect our current classification.
Since the beginning of this conflict six years ago, the organization of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics evolved. Updates notably provide an analysis of this evolution and discuss the question of Russia’s overall control over these armed groups, which, if confirmed, would turn this NIAC into an IAC.
‘While evidence suggests that Russia is training and equipping these armed groups and providing them with weapons, information at our disposal does not allow us to conclude with a degree of certainty that Russia exercises overall control over them by coordinating or helping in the general planning of their military operations’ explains Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
A case filed by Ukraine against Russia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Moscow's alleged support of pro-Russian separatists could lead to a different assessment of this question. The ICJ affirmed, back in November 2019, that it has jurisdiction on this case.
Updates on this armed conflict analyse the Kerch Strait incident, where three Ukrainian Navy vessels were fired upon and then captured by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) when they attempted to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov heading towards the port of Mariupol. 24 Ukrainians were also captured and sent to prison to Moscow.
The three-vessel are still in the hands of Russia, while the 24 Ukrainian sailors were released in Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange back in September 2019.
Since March 2014, Russia has been occupying part of Ukrainian territory, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
‘The alleged consent for a Russian intervention, based on a request by ousted President Yanukovych, does not affect the classification of the situation as a military occupation. Similarly, the Crimean referendum of 16 March 2014 to join Russia does not alter the status of Crimea as occupied territory’ underlines Professor Marco Sassòli.
This entry has been updated with a section on views of parties to the conflict and other actors.
Further research conducted by the RULAC research team highlighted that the level of organization of the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the intensity of the armed violence between this cartel and both the Mexican armed forces and the CJNG allow classifying these two situations as non-international armed conflicts.
The updated Commentary on the Third Geneva Convention will bewill be launched online on 16 June where an expert panel, including our Director Professor Marco Sassòli, will discuss the Commentary's main findings and will examine how international humanitarian law protects prisoners of war.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, examines the conduct of hostilities in situations of international armed conflict, also known as the Law of The Hague.
The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts project (RULAC) is a unique online portal that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL). It is primarily a legal reference source for a broad audience, including non-specialists, interested in issues surrounding the classification of armed conflicts under IHL.
As an annual publication, The War Report provides an overview of contemporary trends in current armed conflicts, including key international humanitarian law and policy issues that have arisen and require attention.