Ukraine-Russia War Illegal, Are There Options To End It?

by Elpidio Estioko

Russia’s war against Ukraine is illegal, according to International Law and the United Nations (U.N.) Charter. But is there an international body to enforce the law that will end the war? If none, what are our options?

In late February, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on Russia to stop its fast-moving ground invasion of Ukraine. He told reporters during a press conference in the U.N.’s New York headquarters:

“The use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country committed to uphold. This applies to the present military offensive. It is wrong. It is against the [United Nations] Charter. It is unacceptable. But it is not irreversible.

“Stop the military operation. Bring the troops back to Russia. We know the toll of war.”

The United Nations Charter is an agreement that guides the work of the U.N. and its 193-member states. But, As I See It, Guterres’ call to stop the war fall on deaf ears and there’s no consequence for doing that!

Russia president Vladimir Putin perhaps didn’t hear it and there is no indication that he will abide by the pronouncement. In fact, Putin continues to dismantle Ukraine, deliberately targeting civilians, as it nears its fifth week of invasion.

In a article by international law expert and professor Hurst Hannum, he wrote that “Enforcing [international] law is challenging, as armed conflicts around the world demonstrate all too clearly.”

There is no standing international police force to enforce it with sanctions, so compliance is primarily in the hands of countries themselves and Putin is not following it.

While the International Court of Justice, created by the U.N. and located in the Netherlands, decides disputes between countries, including alleged violations of the U.N. Charter, only 73 countries out 195 have accepted the court’s jurisdiction and in no way enforceable.

We are seeing non-compliance with the law, but no sanctions are being imposed! So, what are our options?

The first option is diplomacy, talking points and negotiations! While staging fierce resistance of Russian troops during the invasion, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is now ready to talk and negotiate and is willing to abide by Putin’s demand for Ukraine not to pursue its membership with NATO, among others.

Zelenskyy thinks that to end the war, both leaders must agree on things beneficial to both countries and that’s the only way to avoid further damage to lives and properties. While we haven’t heard from Putin yet, this is a good sign because he will now have a chance to impose things that may be agreeable to Zelenskyy.

Meanwhile, Zelensky needs to continue and be persistent in pursuing his plea to talk and negotiate with Putin.

As a parallel approach to the Zelenskyy-Putin talk, the other leaders who are advocating for world peace can continue diplomatic meetings to support the two leaders to finally agree on terms and end the war.

The second option is for China and other big nations to stay neutral and show Putin the negative outcomes in escalating the war globally as it affects all nations economically, politically and socially.

This may convince Putin to be able to realize the consequences and agree to end the war. They should not be sending military troops or any assistance of the same nature to be able to show their intentions not to intervene directly in the already worsening war. Staying neutral will not aggravate the war but will give time for both parties to realize the consequences of an extended war.

The third option is for NATO and the United States to look for ways to end the war without resorting to World War III.

The humanitarian aspect may play a major role here and let Putin realize that the escalation of the war will eventually displace not only Ukrainians but may likewise affect Russians, locally and internationally.

According to Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management: “We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years. The needs are growing as we speak.”

Reactions to the growing humanitarian situation inside and outside of Ukraine have been encouraging.

The US government has announced nearly $54 million in humanitarian assistance for the country. The European Union is coordinating emergency assistance and has stepped up its humanitarian aid. The European Commission announced an additional $100 million for emergency aid programs to help civilians affected by the conflict.

This week, the U.N. launched the coordinated emergency appeals for a combined $1.7 billion for the next three months to urgently deliver humanitarian support to people in Ukraine and refugees in neighboring countries.

U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, also expressed the Organization’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

“As we try to understand the evolving situation in different parts of the country, we are here to support the people exhausted by years of conflict and we are prepared to respond in case of any increase in humanitarian needs,” she said in a statement.

As I See It,
 the three options are possible!

It’s just a matter of time giving parties to realize the beauty of peace and reconciliation. Let’s pray for the parties to end the war without resorting to World War III. Let’s give them a chance to be sober and decide what’s best for world peace.

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedback, comments… please email the author at

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