Russia’s international law arguments regarding its annexation of Crimea

Stream: Panel 14 - International Relations: Non-western States, International Law and the Responsibility to Protect Norm
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


When Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 it advanced a number of international legal arguments to justify the action, even though at face value, the annexation appeared to be a blatant violation of the general prohibition on the threat or use of force. This paper examines Russia’s international legal rhetoric regarding Crimea in light of Scott’s theory of international law as ideology (ILI). It finds that Russia’s use of international law arguments were not mere empty words to disguise or distract from the achievement of its geopolitical ambitions, but were deployed as part of its strategy to realise those geopolitical goals—in particular its desire for recognition as a great power, and restoration of its influence in the post-Soviet space. The paper also applies ILI to explore what Russia’s international law talk regarding Crimea might reveal about its intentions towards the international order.


Michelle Chase (Presenter), UNSW Australia Alumni
Michelle Chase completed a Master of International Law and International Relations at the University of New South Wales, graduating in 2015. She was the recipient of the Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Prize for best performing postgraduate student in the UNSW Law School in 2014. Her research interests focus on the intersection of politics and international law, and Russian engagement with international law.