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The Russian case for military intervention in Georgia: international law, norms and political calculation

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The Russian military intervention in Georgia in August 2008 has raised significant questions about Russian thinking and practice on the legitimate use of military force abroad, especially in relation to neighbour states. The arguments advanced by Russia to justify this campaign show how Russian interpretations of customary international law as well as norms related to the use of force have served as an instrument of state policy, rather than being rooted in any broader international consensus. The Russian discourse in this context about sovereignty, self-determination and the legitimacy of recognising South Ossetia and Abkhazia as states appears similarly to be strongly influenced by political self-interest and Russian views about its entitlement within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region. Among Russian claims, Moscow's commitment to support its 'citizens' abroad has been particularly controversial. This article examines these issues and also the possibility that, through its justifications for waging war against Georgia, Russia is more broadly contesting the interpretation of certain international norms, that it regards as essentially constructed by Western states. Some potential implications of these legal and normative arguments for future Russian policy in the CIS region, including Ukraine, are also examined.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27982/

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