Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 29.10.2018
“The Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted.” – Article 51, 4th Geneva Convention of 1949: “Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”
The Russian Federation is at war with Ukraine. The Russian Federation is the occupying power in Crimea in the south of Ukraine and in part of Donbas in the east of Ukraine. Ukrainian citizens in Crimea are being forcibly conscripted into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and made to serve the occupying power outside Ukraine. The Putin regime is violating the Geneva Convention and committing a war crime for snatching up the captive population into its army.
The Russian invader-occupiers began to forcibly conscript Ukrainians into their army soon after Putin began his war against Ukraine on 20 February 2014. The foreigners from Muscovy have become increasingly aggressive in their violations of international human rights law over the years, when it comes to the subject population of Ukrainians in Crimea. During the autumn conscription of this year, 2018, the Russian Federation plans to force 2,800 Ukrainians in Crimea into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Furthermore, the occupying power plans to send the Ukrainian conscripts to the far north of the Russian Federation. This was announced by Oleg Yermilov, so-called Military Commissioner of Crimea.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has once again protested against the conscription of Ukrainian citizens who are residents of Crimea into the Russian army. The Ukrainian government has filed a case on the matter with the International Criminal Court, through the legitimate and internationally-recognized governing authority for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol.
There is no doubt that under international law the Russian Federation is the occupying power in Crimea and cannot assert that Crimea is part of its territory. The Tbilisi Declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, made in July 2016, clearly stated that “under international law, no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.” The Tbilisi Declaration went on to say that “the Russian Federation bears full responsibility for human rights violations in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as an occupying power in effective control of the Crimean peninsula.”
It is a violation of international human rights law for the Russians to have removed Ukrainian laws from Crimea and to have imposed foreign Russian Federation laws. The occupying power cannot say it is conscripting soldiers under its own laws, but the Russian Federation is saying so anyway. This is an extra violation of international human rights law. The Tbilisi Declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly ordered the Russian Federation “to stop imposing the application of the Russian Federation’s laws in occupied Crimea, as well as the forced conferral of Russian citizenship on residents of Crimea in violation of international law,”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has made investigations and written reports about the situation of human rights in temporarily occupied Crimea. The OHCHR notes that “since the occupation began, residents of Crimea have been subjected to conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation.” At first, military service was only compelled within Crimea, but “since 2017, conscripts can also be sent to serve on the territory of the Russian Federation.” The plan to send some of the autumn 2018 conscripts to the far north of the Russian Federation is an expansion of Muscovy’s human rights violations.
The OHCHR reports remind that forced enlistment by an occupying power in a time of war is illegal.
The Russian Federation is a party to all four of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and to their three additional protocols. Its a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It’s a member of the United Nations. The 4th Geneva Convention, the OSCE, and the UN all say that what the Putin regime is doing in occupied Ukraine is illegal. Forcibly drafting Crimean residents into the Russian army is a violation of international human rights law and a war crime.
As 2,800 Ukrainian young men go into Russian army uniforms, that will be 2,800 counts against war criminal Putin in the Hague.