Legal precedents, targeted killings and implications for Ukraine

As you know dear readers, this blog steadily plugs away at occurrences in Ukraine.  Very rarely do I leave that theme unless the UK does something exceptionally retarded to the point where I feel the need to comment as the feelings of anguish overtake me and cannot be dismissed.

This is not such an occasion, however, this document sent to all MPs in the House of Commons is an interesting read on the legalities (or not) of the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan a while ago.

The last paragraph is interesting.

“A wider implication is that the killing may be seen as a precedent for targeted killings of individuals by any state, across international boundaries, at least where terrorism is involved. The US is not the only state to have used force against a non-state actor in another sovereign state, in the context of the fight against terrorism: Israel, Turkey and Colombia have also done so, without the consent of the other state or authorisation by the UN Security Council. The more states act in this way, the more likely it is to become accepted, at least politically if not as a matter of international law.”

This raises some questions for every nation.  As normal I shall stick with how it may or may not have implications for Ukraine.

There are quite a number of non-State actors in the region of Ukraine that are indeed classed as terrorists.  There are certainly a few that reside in Chechnya and Degistan  that have fairly easy access to Ukraine.  Only last year a car stolen from eastern Ukraine was used as a car bomb in Russia by such a group.

There is a reasonably sized Turkish population in Odessa.  It would not really be a surprise to know that the PKK had people here at the very least fund raising from local businesses.  If you think that is a stretch of the imagination – hardly.  In the late 1990’s a routine inquiry in North Yorkshire I was involved with ended up discovering/uncovering a PKK “funding” ring from Blackburn to London.  Special Branch were quite pleased, commendations to yours truly and all that followed.

The point is that Ukraine sits amongst nations that have issues with people and groups with quite radical and extreme views that occasionally manifest into actions.  As the above direct quote mentions, several nations are known to have done what the US did in Pakistan before.  Amongst them, our neighbour Turkey, is one such nation.  That is not to mention the recent case of Mossad spiriting away a Palestinian chap on a train from Kharkiv to Kyiv and the subsequent uproar from the UN.  Mossad could, just as easily, made the chap in question a “targeted killing” rather than kidnap him and spirit him away back to an Israeli jail.

Russia of course is known to deal with its own issues regardless of geographical location when the opportunity arises, so it is not a wild stretch to imagine them doing something similar in Ukraine to that which the US did in Pakistan, should they get information that a targeted individual from Chechnya was accessible within the territory of Ukraine.

As usual, there is a fairly good argument based in the link and legal citations contained therein, for such actions to be carried out or not…….and be deemed legal or not.  Wiggle room within the law.

It all seems to depend on the political will to interpret international law one way or the other.  That is fine as long as that interpretation remains consistent, however many would argue that Syria is currently no better or worse than Libya and that there is no consistency from the international community there.

One can only speculate on how Ukraine (or any other nation) will react when their sovereignty is next breached for a “targeted killing” of a non-State actor as it seems more than likely any State that would take such action will not only be a neighbour but also a fairly major trading partner of Ukraine.

Implications and precedents – all interesting stuff.