In International Law And Jurisprudence, Borders Must Be Defensible


The great river Dneiper, running from north to south, partitions Ukraine in halves. See related article here.

Russian President Valdimir Putin is a strong leader heading a strong gov’t. Like Narendra Modi in India and Xijinping in China, Putin takes a strong position on everything. China and Russia may yet emerge as the two musketeers on global security. They would not be able to persuade India to join them as the third muskeeter.

If you can bear with me, let the Karmic stories continue.

Let’s consider the following ongoing developments and from history.

History tells us that Ukraine around Kyiv, on both sides of the great Dneiper River, was the beginning of Mother Russia. Many Russians moved east over the centuries and the great label, Mother Russia, came to rest here. It was the Lenin Constitution after 1917 which made Ukraine a separate country. Ukrainians and Russians are one people. There are many people in Ukraine who speak the distinct Russian used in Russia but consider themselves Ukrainian. In public, they also speak the variation called Ukrainian which originated, according to linguists, from the same roots as Russian.

If Ukrainians consider themselves a separate people from Russians, they have a right to self-determination, sovereignty, democracy, consent of the governed, legitimacy, human rights and recognition by international law.

Defensible Borders

Having said that, it’s the reality in international law and jurisprudence that borders must be defensible.

The great river Dneiper, running from north to south, partitions Ukraine in halves.

India, to cite an example, cannot be demarcated in the north in Himalayan country. Otherwise, the British would have done it. Instead, the British separated Afghanistan, Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan (little Tibet) and Myanmar from India. The colonialists considered India as too big for them to govern.

New Delhi wants to leave the border in the Himalayan country undemarcated. Beijing can’t accept this position and makes repeated unilateral attempts to demarcate the border. It fears that it may some day lose the territories outside China Proper that it now occupies.

In the latest standoff, on Tues 5 May 2020, 200K Chinese troops began attacking some Indian territory. India, which has the best mountain fighting brigades in the world, went behind Chinese positions and occupied the High Points in Tibetan country. In the wake of the ongoing “security crisis” in Ukraine, Beijing proposed that both countries withdraw from their current positions.

India Handles Security Issues

China already occupies the Aksai Chin area of Ladakh Oct 1962 when 200K Chinese troops intruded deep into Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese eventually withdrew before the severe winter under the protection of the Indian Army. Their long supply lines to Tibet had been cutoff, they were starving, facing winter, and were surrounded by hostile villagers.

The point here is that the Chinese took Indian territory but couldn’t hold it. Ukraine may not be able to hold the territory east of the Dneiper. Russia will remain a constant security threat if America and its allies rub it the wrong way.

Ukraine underlines the dilemma that China too faces in international law. Geography has been unkind to China. It lies wide open and cannot be defended by any number of troops, except by the 1.4b people rising up as one, united, and repelling any invaders. That didn’t happen during the Japanese Occupation in World War II and during all those centuries before and after the Great Wall of China, running from east to west in the north, was built by successive Emperors and completed by Shih Huang Ti.

War Among The Great Powers

India, like China, has always been ruled by foreigners although the country has defensible borders. Hindu civilisation collapsed and imploded. The people of India were against the Hindu evil caste system which kept the people divided and cast permanently along the lines of a rigid society of servers and the served. The British used the Hindu evil caste system to divide and rule India for 150 years i.e. the briefest Empire in Indian history. That’s another story.

India today is the only nation on Earth which can put China in its place on global security and other aspects of human endeavour. India prefers not to lead but pace other nations.

America will not lose in a war with China. It will not win either as China is quite capable of launching suicide missions as during the Korean War in 1950 and the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975.

However, in the blue waters i.e. the South China Sea, America will prevail over China. The US is backed by the Quad Navies from India, Japan and Australia. India, which has been present in Vietnamese waters since 2011, has been joined by Russia in the South China Sea.

The Quad, on paper, covers the Indian Ocean as well. Except for Australia and Indonesia, India sees no need for Japan and the US Navies to be present in the Indian Ocean. However, it does not want to be seen as being against America on the global security framework and the Indo-Pacific Theatre. So, it remains a pacer nation.

America sees itself and Allies as bound by common values with India i.e. the rule of law. – New Malaysia Herald

About the writerLongtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez keeps a keen eye on Malaysia as a legal scholar (jurist). He was formerly Chief Editor of Sabah Times. He’s not to be mistaken for a namesake previously with Daily Express. References to his blog articles can be found here.

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