TRIP TO WAR

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PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV SIGNED THE AMENDED LAW "ON DEFENSE"

The president signed the law permitting the use of the Russian military abroad.


Dmitry Medvedev permitted the Russian army to take war to territories of foreign countries. The countries where Russian peacekeepers, military bases, or Russian nationals are attacked will have their chance to meet the Russian military now. The regular army might also be used against the countries that fight Russia’s allies and against pirates. The expert community is split on the new law and what it stands for. Some experts have trust in the amended legislation while others call it purely technical and refuse to entertain the thought that it will ever work anywhere beyond the territory of Russia itself.

The article inserted in the law “On defense” outlines the situations that warrant the use of the Russian military abroad. Campaigns in foreign countries are permitted in order to repel an attack on Russian military units and other structures posted abroad; prevent an aggression against a foreign state that formally appeals to Russia for assistance; protect Russian nationals abroad; and fight pirates compromising safe navigation. “These decisions will only be made in emergencies,” the president once said.

Specialists say that Russia has already used its armed forces abroad. “Forces of the 201st Russian military base were committed to battle more than once during the civil war in Tajikistan,” military expert Vladimir Yevseyev said. “The armed forces were used – despite the acting legislation – in South Ossetia last year,” said Leonid Ivashov, erstwhile commander of the Main Directorate of International Cooperation of the Defense Ministry. “Or consider the Arctic Sea episode when our ships attacked the dry-cargo ship carrying a foreign flag. This law will take care of analogous episodes in the future.”

“Every state has laws such as this. Even the Soviet Union did,” Ivashov continued. “This is a necessary law, one that I think will work. After all, we have advisors posted abroad, we have peacekeepers, and we have obligations to allies within whose framework the use of the military might become necessary.”

“This is but a technical law. It does not really permit the use of the Russian military abroad,” Yevseyev countered. “No national legislation is above international law. This amended legislation is only good as a supplement to international treaties with specific countries. Let’s say something is done against our Navy personnel in Sevastopol. It does not mean that Russia will immediately invade the Crimea, does it? There is the agreement on the Russian military base in the Crimea after all, there is the treaty on the relations between Russia and Ukraine.”

Experts are convinced that the law in question will be applied but sporadically. “We lack the necessary contingents and capacities for its frequent use,” Ivashov said.

“This new law might be good as an element of political pressure,” Yevseyev added. “As for its application in the Crimea or anywhere else… no, I do not think it’s possible.”

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