Fernando Martín Cubel
International Security Analyst
n 24 February 2022, Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, an aggression against a sovereign state that is still underway and has no real prospect of ending. The story of the truth or the truth of the story are aspects that are, as always, closely linked in aggressions between states, and especially in this classic war of invasion. A narrative that has been accumulated since 2014 and has reached us to this day, and which was still the script of the first moments of the invasion, very focused on the protection of Putin’s Russia in the southeast of Ukraine, was transformed when the day after the beginning of the invasion, the objective was different: to put an end to a Ukraine that was uncomfortable for Putin’s designs.
The option of invasion was a blow to the complex European stability that since the end of the Second World War, along with the Helsinki Act of 1975, had seemed a foregone conclusion after centuries of territorial conflicts that had bled Europe dry.
In 1991, Ukraine dissociated itself from what had been its “common home” and became once again – as in 1918 – a sovereign state. This was accompanied by the 1994 Budapest Memorandum whereby Kiev gave up its status as the third major nuclear power in exchange for sovereignty. In a way, the centuries-long common history between Ukraine and Russia was coming to an end, something that both sides seemed to be very clear about and therefore assumed the new present that emerged from the 1990s onwards.
In 1975, 35 countries signed the so-called Helsinki Act at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. What principles were enshrined in the Helsinki Act, which are now being hit extremely hard by this Russian invasion? Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty. Refraining from the threat or use of force. Inviolability of borders. Territorial integrity of states. Settlement of disputes by peaceful means. Non-intervention in internal affairs.
The failure to respect the principles of the Helsinki Security Act is very bad news for Europe. The European continent is based on respect for territorial stability and security between sovereign states capable of resolving their neighbourhood problems on the basis of dialogue; settling these problems through war is undesirable and unjustified, a mistake that must be resolved as soon as possible.
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