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THBT: Russia's invasion of Ukraine beginning in 2022 was unjustified


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 4 votes and with 6 points ahead, the winner is...

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BoP is shared. PRO argues that the invasion is unjustified, CON argues that it is justified.

The "invasion" refers to both the action of subjugating Ukraine and to the way in which it was carried out.

Round 1
In the debate, I will show that Russia's invasion of Ukraine beginning in 2022 is demonstrably unjustified. As the description specifies, I will argue that Russia’s actions in subjugating Ukraine cannot be defended in good conscience. To meet their burden of proof, my opponent will have to show that Russia’s actions in Ukraine, including both the invasion and the methods used to accomplish it, are justified.

On February 24 of 2022, Russia began an unjustified and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This attack was condemned by the international community. This invasion was clearly unjustified, though it was not the first time Russia had violated the rights of a sovereign nation.

1. Ukraine Is a Sovereign Nation:
History of Independence
While in power, Gorbachev pursued a number of  reforms, and as a result, the Soviet Union entered a period of limited democratization. Ukraine became independent in 1991 by referendum, when 90% of voters chose to leave the Soviet Union.

Recognition of Ukraine’s Sovereignty
Russia recognized Ukraine’s right to independence in 1991 and again in 1994 when they agreed to respect Ukraine’s independence if Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons.

2. Russia Is an Oppressive Regime:
Russia has claimed that it intends to liberate Ukrainians from an oppressive regime. However, Ukraine is much more democratic and free than Russia. It is simply illogical to suggest that an authoritarian regime is justified in subjugating a democratic nation.

Russia is Authoritarian
Putin has engaged in numerous other undemocratic practices. Analysis of voting patterns clearly indicates rigged results in Russia’s election. Putin controls the judiciary in Russia. Putin recently signed a law enabling himself to stay in power until 2036. Putin’s political opponents continue to die under mysterious circumstances. Russia is ranked as “Not Free” by Freedom House with a score of 19/100.

Russian Violations of Human Rights
Russia has continually oppressed religious groups. Russia ranked 9th in the Global Impunity Index for the killing of journalists. Russia has beaten and arrested suspected homosexuals, torturing them with electric shocks and committing sexual violence against one of the men.

Ukraine is Much More Democratic
Ukraine has continually been rated significantly higher by Freedom House, with ratings from 60 to 62 out of 100.

Results of Russian Invasion
A Russian invasion of a much freer nation will subject Ukrainian citizens to a much more authoritarian government. Fighting a bloody war so that Ukrainian citizens have less freedoms is clearly not justified.

3. Russia Has Violated International Law:
UN Charter
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violates Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which requires members of the UN not to violate the territorial integrity of another country or threaten its political independence. No evidence exists that Ukraine engaged in actions that would warrant such an attack.

The UN General Assembly has condemned Russia’s invasion and demanded that they reverse course, as Russia’s actions are in direct violation of international law.

War Crimes
Russia has committed a number of war crimes in violation of international law, including attacks on civilians, indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in civilian areas, torture, sexual violence, and the abduction of at least 6,000 Ukranian children. These children are being held in more than 43 political re-education camps.

Growing evidence suggests that Russian troops are committing genocide. Mass burial sites found near Izium show signs of torture. After a massacre in Bucha, lawmakers in a number of countries condemned Russia’s actions as genocide. A legal analysis has determined that the Russian government bears responsibility for breaches of Article II and Article III (c) of the Genocide Convention.

4. Russia Invaded Ukraine on False Pretenses:
Russian Lies About Self-Defense
Putin has described the attack on Ukraine as an act of self-defense, despite Ukraine posing no direct military threat to Russia. On the contrary, it was Russia that invaded Ukraine in 2014 after a fraudulent election in which masked men with guns threatened voters at polling stations.

Contradictory Claims
Russia has consistently failed to give a consistent account of their justifications for the war or of which parts of Ukraine supposedly belong to them, indicating that Putin is simply doing what he wants and then attempting to save face afterward:

5. Russia Has Avoided Diplomatic Solutions:
Rejecting Alternatives to War
NATO has continually tried to build a partnership with Russia, and Russia has responded by illegally annexing countries in Europe. Russia has repeatedly lied about its motivations and hoped that a quick invasion would expand their borders in lieu of diplomacy. Russia has continually issued completely unreasonable demands that they have no right to make while denying Ukraine’s right to enter a defensive alliance.

Rejecting Peaceful Resolutions to the War
Russia has ruled out peaceful negotiations while continuing an invasion that yielded tens of thousands of deaths in just the first year. Furthermore, despite Putin’s words, Russia has shown no interest in negotiation.

6. Russia Has Violated the Rights of Its Own Citizens:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a number of other unjustified decisions as part of Russia’s war effort.

Due to blowback from the invasion, the Kremlin has banned criticism of the war, dispersing the thousands of protestors who have lined the streets to protest the conflict. Russian support for the war could be as low as 59 percent, in spite of the propaganda and censorship from the Russian government.

Unjustified Conscription Order
Putin ordered the conscription of 147,000 Russian citizens for no purpose other than expanding Russia’s borders. Russia is clearly willing to sacrifice the lives of its own citizens for a purely offensive war.

Dollar Cost to Russian Citizens
Russia’s military expenditures on the conflict in Ukraine have likely surpassed $9 trillion. This is many times its annual budget. Essentially, Russia is spending trillions of dollars on a destructive conflict instead of spending that money on education or food for its own people.

7. Destabilization of International Peace:
To use a well-known metaphor, it seems clear that Putin would see Europe burn if he could be king of the ashes. Russia’s invasion has led to an overwhelming loss of life and enormous costs for every country involved. The only potential gain here is more political power for Putin, and the ends simply don’t justify the means.

Nuclear Threats
The threat of nuclear war is higher now than at any time since the Cold War. Russia’s continued nuclear threats work to undo years of peace agreements in Europe. The downsides of this are very clear. The US alone has sent billions of dollars to Ukraine. The threat of a full-scale war has already led Finland to join NATO. The threat of war leads countries to spend billions of dollars on defense that could be spent on education or feeding the poor.

Refugee Crisis
The attack on Ukraine has forced millions of Ukrainian refugees to escape to neighboring countries. This refugee crisis has led to costs of billions of euros for neighboring countries, though the greatest cost is of course the enormous loss of life and continued human suffering imposed by Russia’s invasion.

DISCLAIMER:  This is not, nor am I, a pro Putin propagandist.  I am simply looking at the totality of the situation.  Please put biases aside when voting on this.
My friend has stated that my BoP is .I" will have to show that Russia’s actions in Ukraine, including both the invasion and the methods used to accomplish it, are justified."

Flag on the field.  The debate topic says " Russia's invasion of Ukraine beginning in 2022 was unjustified. "   it says nothing about qualification of Russia's methods.  This is a clear shift of the goal posts, and I urge voters not to be drawn into a "methods" determination. As a pacifist, I think all war is terrible.  As a realist, I know that not everyone believes that, and therefore war will be inevitable.  This is a conversation about justification, and not methods.

By the very definition of justification, and considering the history of Russia, Ukraine, the region, and the world, Russia were justified in executing the Special Military Operation, which culminated in the territorial breach of Ukraines sovereign borders.  I have had to do a significant amount of research for this one.

Intro to Justified:
I will address my friends comments in later rounds.  Herein I will set the table for my position.  We need to look at the word, and principal of "justified" or "justification".  My friend has not defined the word.  Whilst many debates can revolve around semantics, the word justification is very important to this debate.  

Merriam Webster defines justified as:   having or shown to have a just, right, or reasonable basis

What is very interesting about the word justified, and the definition is that attached subjectivity to it.  This concept has been explored, and is very relevant to this discussion.  In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the entry on "Epistemology and Relativism" discusses the concept of justification as a subjective process influenced by cultural, social, and individual factors.  A paper by Richard Holton, called "Justification and Motivation"  argues that justification is a subjective process that involves not only the evaluation of reasons but also the motivation to act on those reasons. It is a fascinating read. 

Those two papers illustrate that subjective nature of justification.  However that subjectivity is very complex, and can be a combination of objective and psychological/moral elements.  We see that in the paper by Ernest Sosa, called "The Epistemic Versus the Psychological."  This paper demonstrates that justification is both distinguished from, and inclusive of objective evidence, and psychological, stemming from personal attitudes and experiences.  From a social construct perspective in Russia, that is very important.    We see thats social aspect articulated very clearly by Dale T. Miller and Susan T. Fiske, in their paper "Social Determinants of the Justification Hypothesis"  This paper discusses how cultural and social factors can influence people's subjective sense of justification and the way they make moral judgments, which is very applicable to the debate at hand.

Based on the aforementioned, it is essential to analyze the principal of justification, through the eyes and ears of those who feel justified, and then challenge if that determination was in fact defendable.  We cannot truly examine the justification principal from our perspective.  We do not live the world, we are not part of the culture.  So it is imperative that we try to look at the totality from the others perspective.

Humanitarian Purposes:   The heart of all war justifications

 The Korean War, The Kossovo War, The Afghanistan War, The Iraq War, The Libya Intervention, and the Syrian Civil War Intervention, are all examples of wars that the US has been heavily involved with for  "Humanitarian Purposes".  The justification being, made that without intervention, significant death or harm would result.  We all have our opinions on the legitimacy, and efficacy of those interventions.  Some may feel there was justification, others would not.   The governments who did engage certainly felt justified.  I will point out that none of those wars were to defend Americans at immediate risk.

To that point, the US have argued that actions oversees, may have a home effect, and therefore justifies military intervention.  This article by Jared Keller in Task and Purposes shows the extent of the US Military around the world.  Up to 800 bases, and service staff in 150 countries.  

And when it comes to US citizens, we even see Lindsay Graham saying he wants military authorization for the US to go into Mexico and battle the drug cartels, regardless of Mexicos position.

All of the above is justified in the eyes of some, defend out people..  

Russia has been involved in a few military conflicts for "humanitarian purposes". There was First Chechen War (1994-1996), and the argument being, there was a separatist movement there, and Russia needed to quell it.  Note, that Chechnya is a federal subject of the Russian Federation., and whilst it is a republic it is not sovereign and has no UN voting rights.   The Second Chechen War (1999-2009), again was argued to be to counter rebels.  Russia defended both actions saying that as the Federal Administrator, they had an obligation to intervene.

Not Russias First Rodeo

In the 1990, following the collapse of the USSR, South Ossetia, declared independence from Georgia.  Georgia launched a military attack in 2008, to try to reintegrate the territory.  Russia was not impressed, and they intervened for "Humanitarian Reasons".  One of the Russian arguments at the time was to defend Russian speakers, and defend the right to self governance.  Whilst Russia sees South Ossetia as independent, the majority of the world does not.  

Russia have taken strategic and precise military action before, to defend the autonomy rights of citizens it sees are being oppressed.  In fact Russia supported, among other countries independence desires, economically and with either military aid or proxy assistance such as South Sudan, Eritrea, East Timor, Kosovo, and Palestine.  

Ukraine, and the Justification

The background above is to set a context on justification and how countries have used it before for military intervention.  Whilst the history of Russia and Ukraine is long and complex, I will stick to the last decade for substance as it relates to this debate.  In 2013,  Putin offered Ukraines pro Russia government a $15BN loan and lower gas prices, if Ukraine President Yanukovych did not sign the EU Cooperation Agreement.  Yanukovych agreed with Putin, and then the shit hit the fan. Massive Pro-EU protests spring up in 2014, which was called the Euromaidan Revolution,   The EU then brokers a deal for the resignation of Yanukovych. Pro EU Poroshenko wins the new election.

As the political tied shifted so drastically, the predominant Russian populations in Crimea and Donbas, got very concerned.  They wanted more Russian ties.  So they held referendums in both regions.  Russia accepted the Crimea referendum, but did not accept the Donbas one.    Crimea had always been a part of Russia until 1954, when the USSR administratively changed its region.  Russia used the referendum, and the fact that Crimea was always historically part of Russia, as a defense to annexation. To resolve the issue in the Donbas, a settlement accord was established, called the Minsk Accord.  It was signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People's Republic, and the Luhansk People's Republic.

Central to the agreement was the rights of Donetsk and Luhansk to have a referendum for autonomy and self governance.   5 months later, an updated version was signed by the same parties.  Minsk II Accord.   The focus on autonomy and the right to self determination was central.  It was also central to the Normandy Four conversations, between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.  Among things discussed, and agreed to was the right for voting in Donbas.

Ukraine refused to allow the accords to be implemented.   This cannot be disputed.  We learned subsequently, that both France, and Germany never intended on the accord to be implemented and was agreed to just for Ukraine to buy time for a war with Russia. Here.  Frances Hollande also reiterated the benefit of not implementing Minsk.  Great 2 minute video here

Meanwhile, it is undisputed that there was an internal conflict in Ukraine, as the Donbas escalated their calls for independence.  We know the Donbas is a predominantly Russia speaking area.  We know that Russia have defended military action to protect Russian speakers.    but most important is the amount of time that went by before Russia made their move.  

Not Without Warning

Russia engaged in international dialogue, signed treaties, and repeatedly insisted on Ukraine following through the the Minsk I and II accords.  On September 28th 2015 Putin said this to the UN General Assembly

"We strongly believe that the Minsk Agreements must be implemented in full. We need to do everything possible to facilitate the process, including ensuring that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission performs its functions effectively, and that the Contact Group and its subgroups work more efficiently. We hope that these efforts will help restore peace in Ukraine and create conditions for political and economic normalization."  ....   "Today, Kiev's representatives are not appearing before their own people in Donetsk and Lugansk, but before their patrons abroad. The situation calls for the swiftest possible implementation of the Minsk agreements – a solution that has already been agreed upon."

On September 20th 2016. Putin said this to the UN General Assembly

""We expect that the Minsk agreements will be unconditionally implemented by both Kiev and Donbass."

Here are examples, from 2014 to 2021 on Putin expressing concerns about the Azov, their role in the Donbas.   20142015201620172018201920202021
Here are examples from the same period, on Putin expressing dismay about Ukraines failure to honour the Mink Agreement.2014201520162017201820192020 2021
And here are examples from the same period, on Putin warning that he reserves the right to get involved to protect Russian speakers.  20142015201620172018201920202021

And before taking action Putin talked to Biden about it, and wanted his help getting the accords implemented.


Justification is a subjective concept.  All things being considered, the attempts by Russia at peace, the agreements signed, the continuous warnings, the leveraging of the international community, and the consistent messaging, it is very reasonable for someone to conclude that Russias actions were justified.  The problem with this discussion, is that none of what I have written can be negated.  It is all true.  They are actual facts.  

This was not a knee jerk response. Every opportunity for the agreements to operate.  They were ignored, Putin felt it was time to act...  8 years later.  I want readers to take serious note of the timeline, and all the potential off-ramps offered.    Therein, Putin was objectively  justified in launching their SMO.

Round 2
CON accuses me of moving the goalposts. I am simply being consistent with the description, which states, “The "invasion" refers to both the action of subjugating Ukraine and to the way in which it was carried out.” Even without this clarification, I’m interpreting the resolution in the most obvious way. We are not discussing a hypothetical invasion, but rather Russia's invasion of Ukraine beginning in 2022, as it has occurred in reality. War crimes, the draft, and genocide are all significant components of the invasion we are discussing. The Russian government sent conscripted Russian soldiers into a sovereign nation while making genocide a default policy. That is the invasion which we are discussing.

I agree that people disagree about what a proper justification is, but the purpose of this debate, as is the purpose of any debate, is to determine which side is correct. A justification is by definition a good reason for something. Russia’s reasons for its invasion are wrong, and Russia’s invasion is unjust by definition.

CON’s Case
Forgive my change in format below, but the following three questions are of high significance when evaluating CON’s case:
  1. Has Ukraine provoked Russia in unwarranted ways?
  2. Do these provocations justify an invasion?
  3. Do these provocations justify the specific kind of invasion that Russia has been carrying out?
I will establish that the answer to each of these questions is “no”. Note that CON focuses mainly on (1) and makes some implied links to (2), while dismissing (3) entirely. This does not help their case, as (3) is the subject of this debate.

Has Ukraine provoked Russia in unwarranted ways?
Russian Provocation
  • I established earlier that Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 and has invaded other countries as well. While Russia claims that these invasions were due to humanitarian purposes, CON seems to agree with the consensus that these justifications were made up.
  • Unwarranted US involvement in other countries does not justify Russia’s actions in Georgia or Crimea. We’re not discussing whether countries claim that their actions were justified, but if they actually were justified.
  • Since the US is not the focus of this debate, I will simply extend my point that Russia’s invasion of Crimea was unjustified due to Ukraine’s sovereignty and coercion by armed men with guns.
  • Maybe the United States invaded countries for unjustified reasons, but that is irrelevant to whether Russia’s actions were justified.
Ukraine’s Actions
  • None of Ukraine’s actions toward Russia have been unwarranted. Since the invasion of Crimea, Ukraine has had strong reasons to be fearful of Russia.
  • President Yanukovych only has the authority to make claims about what he will do when in office. He does not have the authority to promise Russia that other presidents will not get elected.
  • Yanukovych did not “agree” to anything anyway, Russia basically just pressured him not to sign the agreement, since they’re a big trade partner and have a huge army.
  • Russia does not have the authority to say Ukraine cannot make deals with the EU any more than Mexico has the authority to say who Taiwan can make deals with.
  • Neither of Russia’s “justifications” actually justified the annexation of Crimea. As I said earlier, Ukraine had legally become independent and Russia had agreed to recognize its borders—twice. I already pointed out that the referendum in Crimea was rigged. In fact, voter turnout was recorded as 123%, just shy of Kim Jong Un’s approval rating.
  • A dictator running one of the most authoritarian countries in the world is likely not invading a neighboring country for “humanitarian reasons”.
  • Russia violated the Minsk agreements much more severely than Ukraine by refusing to stop fighting and claiming it was not bound by the agreement. If Russia claims it never agreed to the Minsk accords, then how can the Russian government claim that Ukraine violated an agreement with them?
  • The Minsk agreements were not binding to either government anyway which is why each side interprets them differently. But if we use them as a standard, then Russia is more guilty of provocation than Ukraine.
  • The agreements were unfair to Ukraine, whose borders had been recognized for decades. It was basically a list of demands by Russian terrorists who had seized the region.
  • That people in Donbas speak English is irrelevant to which country Donbas is located in.
Russia’s Warnings
  • Putin’s opinions on the Minsk agreements hold little weight when Russia never intended to follow them.
  • Putin claiming that Ukraine’s actions are bad, or claiming that he has a right to do something, does not make either of those things true.
  • Dictators make unreasonable demands all the time. Not agreeing to the demands of an insane dictator is perfectly reasonable.

Do these provocations justify an invasion?
  • CON’s only justification here seems to be that Russia says it is invading for humanitarian reasons, therefore they must be telling the truth. His comparison to other invasions by countries like the US is an obvious whataboutism fallacy. Russia alone is responsible for Russia’s actions.
  • CON has not even argued that all of Ukraine belongs to Russia; therefore, Russia is taking land that does not belong to them.
  • None of the things CON listed show that Ukraine poses any military threat to Russia. Russia is the world’s largest nuclear power with the world’s fifth largest army. Russia is a threat to Ukraine, not the other way around.

Do these provocations justify the specific kind of invasion that Russia has been carrying out?
  • CON makes no justification for this. None of Ukraine’s actions warrant war crimes or genocide.
  • Russia could admit that Donbas belongs to Ukraine like they admitted twice already when they recognized Ukraine’s independence. Or they could actually follow the Minsk agreements that they are demanding Ukraine abide by.
  • Killing innocent Ukrainian citizens, drafting their own people, and engaging in a full-scale invasion do not solve any of the problems between Russia and Ukraine, except for satisfying Putin’s greed.


Appeal to Emotion:
Pro has consistently used inflammatory terms, and unsubstantiated claims as an attempt to appeal to the emotion of the readers I will highlight what they are.  They include, but are not limited too, "war crimes", "genocide", "full invasion",  "invaded other countries" etc.  It is essential that facts are used, not speculation, not propaganda, or other emotional tools.  I agree with Pro, that the war is not good, and as a self-proclaimed pacifist, it really does bother me to my core.  However I also believe that because not everyone is a pacifist, war will happen, and it is important to understand how it happens, or could be prevented. 

One thing we can all agree on is that neither of us are on the ground there.  So it is vitally important that we are careful about our data sources.  Sources from the West will be heavily slanted to the West, and sources from the East will be heavily slanted to them.  Our individual agency requires us to know this difference, and opine in the totality, not based on an NPR article, or a Fox/CNN chyron.  

In the interest of space, I will only quote when necessary. My friend says the invasion was both unjustified, and unprovoked.  They also claims it was a "full scale invasion" which it was not. At no time has Putin claimed, or stated his objective was to take over Ukraine.  My friend uses a A US State Department link,  in fairness probably the farthest thing from a reputable source. 

The term "full scale invasion" typically involves a significant and coordinated military operation by one country against another, with the intent of achieving complete control or conquest of the targeted territory.  Russia has never stated, nor has it operated in a manner that even implies its intent is to completely occupy or conquest Ukraine, nor has their parliament or federation council approved same.. 

To think that Russia was not provoked into responding, based on what I have already written is beyond preposterous.  If someone does something to someone else, despite warnings, and without regard to the feelings of the other person, you would call that provocative.  Your 5yo is in the back seat with his 9yo sister and keeps making faces at her. She screams. "Stop it, you're bugging me".   We know that scene all too well. That same principle happens to countries.  Continuously doing what someone else does not like, forewhich you KNOW they dont like it, and you do it anyway. That is provocation

1. NATO Expansion.  
Whilst the expansion is not the cause of the SMO, it is important to understand the overall political environment.    It is a factor, because it told Putin, that the Ukraine would not be a cooperative neighbour, because of NATO influence.

Rewind.: Reagan and Gorbachev had many discussions about the dissolution of the USSR specifically about NATO expansion,.  U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s said “not one inch eastward” about NATO expansion in a meeting with Gorbachev on February 9, 1990. Further supported by CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.".

1991, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2020, 2023.  All NATO expansion dates for the "safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means".  2008 Is particular as that was the Bucharest summit, where Georgia and Ukraine were invited to join NATO. Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov said "The alliance's eastward expansion . . . could lead to the appearance of new dividing lines in Europe and the possibility of new conflicts." 

RC1: Nato's expansion was a provocation to Russia, as the US saw with Cuba.   It was forwarded, and NATO did it anyway, over and over.

2.  Donbas.
I am not a fan of Wikipedia, however I did corroborate this data with Ukraine official census data, from 2001.  We see that the Donbas regions account for nearly 3 Million ethnic Russians.  Following the election of a pro European government in 2014,  (that did not have Donbas participation). Pro-Russian separatists in Donbas protested.  The Ukrainian government used a military response.

Ukraine was criticized for their heavy handed, and indiscriminate actions

"The Ukrainian government's response has been heavy-handed and has resulted in significant loss of life and damage to civilian infrastructure. The government has failed to address the underlying political and economic grievances of the pro-Russian separatists, and has instead resorted to a military solution that has only exacerbated the conflict."
Al Jezzera, in August of 2019 reported on the conflict in Donbas.   The article criticizes the Ukrainian government for its handling of the situation, accusing it of committing human rights violations against civilians in the region, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances. It also highlights the suffering of the civilian population, including lack of access to basic services such as healthcare and education, as well as the damage caused to infrastructure and homes.

Native Russian speakers, and civilians had been subjected to 8 years of conflict, because the Ukraine refused to honour the Minsk accords.  Russian warned and warned that they had an obligation to protect their ethnic citizens.    We hear this type of argument all the time, Armenia, Eritrea, Kosovo, Albania, etc.  As I demonstrated, governments have historically used ethnic protection elements as justification for military intervention.

There is zero dispute that there was nearly 8 years of active aggressive conflict of Ukrainians between native Russians in the Donbas region, and innocent civilians got caught in the middle.  That historically has been a form of provocation.

RC2:   The continuous military action for 8 years from Ukrainian forces, against ethnic Russians was provocative.

3.  Minsk Accords, and International Claims.
Pro repeatedly states that Russia is not adhering to them. If we look at the international presentation of argument, we can clearly see that Russia has been more vocal about compliance concerns than Ukraine. 

RC3:  Russia has demonstratively engaged diplomatically and politically, encouraging the enforcement of the Minsk agreements.  He warned that the failure to implement them would be an escalation, which is a provocation.  

1. Sovereignty:
As PRO points out, Ukraine as a Sovereign nation, was reached by agreement, and like any agreement, it is not necessarily permanent. The Minsk Accords occurred after 1991, like the Black Fleet lease of 1997, and the Tuzla Island co-sharing in 2004. Saying sovereignty does not mitigate provocative or inciting behaviour, for noncompliance with agreements.

2. Russia Is an Oppressive Regime:
PRO's claim that because Russia is a "repressive regime", they cannot be provoked or justified into taking military action to protect their citizens is an Appeal to Emotions.

3. Russia Has Violated International Law:
So did Ukraine.  For 8 years they waged an indiscriminate attack on the Donbas region.  Russia tried to use the International Community to enforce the International Accords, and to ask them to motivate Ukraine to stop its hostilities including the UN Security Council.

January 29, 2015, Russia requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine, citing a "serious deterioration of the situation on the ground." During the meeting, Russia accused Ukraine of escalating the conflict and violating the Minsk agreements.

 December 18, 2015, Russia circulated a draft resolution at the Security Council calling for the implementation of the Minsk agreements and for the establishment of a UN mission to monitor the ceasefire in Donbas. The draft resolution was not adopted.  Yet Pro would try to imply that it is Russia not following the agreements.  Russia tried to hand it over to the UN. 

February 28, 2017, Russia requested a meeting of the Security Council to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine, citing an increase in ceasefire violations and accusing Ukraine of failing to implement the Minsk agreements.

RC4 Russia used a number of reasonable means, and tried to leverage international law (through Accords), international persuasion (through the UN, and the Normandy Four talks) to negotiate and resolve the issue.  The International Community supported Ukraine ignoring their agreements.  To defend the attack on the ethnic Russians in Donbas, Russia took unilateral, and justifiable military action, because the International Community refused to intervene.

4. Russia Invaded Ukraine on False Pretenses:

Ukraine belonged to Russia.
PRO uses a quote, from a source, and that source does not reference that quote. It is a false claim for the purposes of trying ti imply that Putin is trying to take over all of Ukraine, which it has never said it wants to do.

RC5. I have shown countless warnings by Putin about taking unilateral action, and his efforts to engage diplomatically.  Those efforts would have to be shown as being false for PRO to say that the pretenses were false.

5. Russia Has Avoided Diplomatic Solutions:
I have clearly shown this not to be the case, again by asking the UN to step in and monitor.

 PRO states Putin never wanted peace and uses a headline from the Financial Time. Yet the actual body:

Moscow sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution to end the war in Ukraine
Of course there is not diplomatic solution insight, when NATO are funding Ukraine heavily, the UN refuse to step in and Ukraine ignore their agreements (Minsk Accords). It makes sense why there would be no possibility.  The article does not say that Russia wont engage, which it has already done, in diplomatic efforts.  It is the West who are interfering and preventing peace talks. We saw this with Boris Johnson. pressuring Zelensky to avoid peace talk, and we saw with Merkel and Hollande above.

6. Russia Has Violated the Rights of Its Own Citizens:
Agreeing or disagreeing with how Russia operates has nothing to do with this debate.  Appeal to Emotions.

7. Destabilization of International Peace
PRO states that Finland has joined NATO because of the threat of Nuclear War.   That logically makes no sense.    Finland are now in the cross-hairs.  Finland joined NATO now, because when Russia invaded Ukraine, it effectively undermined its own arguments against NATO expanding on its borders.   Finland joining was opportunistic.

Regardless, it has nothing to do with the crux of this debate.  Was Russia justified.

Has Ukraine provoked Russia in unwarranted ways?
Russia did Annex Crimea, following Crimea referendum to return to Russia.  Is Pro saying that is justification for 8 years of internal civil war?  Yet then Pro claims that none of Ukraine’s actions toward Russia have been unwarranted.  The ethnic Russia speakers of Donbas would disagree.  Pro claims that Yanukovych did not “agree” to anything anyway, and provides a Western article to support their position. Pro then makes a claim that the turnout was 123% yet, that source returns nothing.   I have a source that says the turnout was 83%,

Finally, Pro contend that the Agreements were non-binding, so Russia had no right to complain, yet argues Russia was violating them.  Pick a lane.

Absent the appeals to emotion, all Pro is saying is that Russia is a bad country, Putin is bad, and therefore everything they do is bad.  Look at the facts I have outlined, and put yourself in Putins shoes,   Do you see his point?

Round 3
I think that CON again points to certain actions that they consider to be provocative, but they do not weigh these against the consequences of an invasion or explain how the ends are supposed to justify the means. CON and I both seem to agree that war is generally bad and should be used as a last resort. I’ll start by reiterating most of my main case, since I don’t think it has been challenged.

My Case Summarized:
  • Ukraine is a sovereign nation, as acknowledged by Russia multiple times.
  • Russia is committing war crimes, kidnapping children, and committing genocide against Ukranian children, proving that they are not in Ukraine for humanitarian reasons. CON calls this an appeal to emotion, but it’s simply an observable fact. Russia violated Article II and Article III (c) of the Genocide Convention.
  • Putin is a dictator of an authoritarian nation. Hence, the notion that he is invading a democratic nation for humanitarian reasons when he fails to give basic rights to his own people is absurd. CON again calls this an appeal to emotion, but it’s simply a logical conclusion.
  • Russia is violating international law in about a dozen ways that I’ve already listed.
  • Russia has repeatedly lied about their purposes for instigating the conflict
  • Russia is spending enormous amounts of money and drafting their own people, resulting in over 60,000 Russian deaths.
  • Russia is causing a huge refugee crisis while raising the threat of nuclear conflict to the highest point since the Cold War.
  • All of these things make Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unjustified, based on both common sense and just war theory.

“Sources from the West will be heavily slanted to the West”
  • Sources from the West are preferable, since Western countries have freedom of speech and don’t murder reporters as often as Putin.
  • I’ve cited a number of sources that aren’t part of any US government agency, including independent legal analyses.
  • CON does not challenge any of my information as inaccurate, beyond saying that some of it came from groups located in Western nations. All information comes from somewhere, and sources like Brittanica are very reliable, so this is simply the genetic fallacy.
“PRO uses a quote, from a source, and that source does not reference that quote.”
  • It’s well-established that Putin has claimed Ukraine is not an independent nation. The particular source CON is referring to was not quoting Putin, it was explaining why Putin’s claim was false.

“At no time has Putin claimed, or stated his objective was to take over Ukraine.”
  • This is a full-scale invasion. Russia has consistently lied about whether they would invade and about what parts of Ukraine belong to them. Let’s not pretend Russia won’t take the whole country if the war turns in their direction.
  • NATO is a defensive alliance. It’s meant to be a deterrent to dictators invading sovereign nations. Putin is essentially justifying his invasion by saying that a country trying to defend itself is offensive to him.
  • CON seems to consider anything that Putin doesn’t like a provocation that justifies invading a foreign country. If a bunch of Russian diplomats had said, “stop eating ham sandwiches,” and Ukrainians had continued to do so, then CON would be arguing that this justified the invasion.
“Ukraine…instead resorted to a military solution that has only exacerbated the conflict.”
  • I’m unable to find the source that says this, but I’ll assume it actually does.
  • This sounds a lot like what Russia is doing right now—killing civilians in a military invasion that only exacerbates the conflict in Europe.
  • The difference is that Ukraine is defending their people from terrorists, within Ukraine’s sovereign borders. Russia is invading land that does not belong to them.
“Russia has been more vocal about compliance concerns than Ukraine.”
  • CON is confusing talk with action. Russia violates the Minsk accords and then gaslights Ukraine by acting like a much smaller nation is posing a threat by defending themselves.
  • Russia making a hypocritical demand does not mean that Ukraine has an option to adhere to that demand. Just because Russians call something a provocation does not mean that Ukraine’s actions are unwarranted or that they justify an invasion.
“Of course there is not diplomatic solution insight, when NATO are funding Ukraine heavily”
  • Maybe this is because Russia has invaded a sovereign nation, kidnapped their children, and begun blowing up buildings with civilians inside them.
  • None of Russia’s actions has made diplomatic talks more realistic. Maybe if Russia stops killing innocent people for two seconds, a diplomatic solution will be more feasible.
“So did Ukraine.  For 8 years they waged an indiscriminate attack on the Donbas region.”
  • Ukraine defended its sovereign borders from terrorists who tried to take over part of the country. Much like Abraham Lincoln.
“It is the West who are interfering and preventing peace talks.”
  • Ukraine is more likely to take advice from their allies who offer to protect them than from a homicidal dictator who wants to kill their citizens. This seems rather logical.
“PRO states that Finland has joined NATO because of the threat of Nuclear War.   That logically makes no sense.”
  • Finland joined NATO after decades of neutrality right after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sweden wants to join as well. Russia is giving other countries a reason to fear military conflict.
“Regardless, it has nothing to do with the crux of this debate.  Was Russia justified.”
  • CON would like to ignore the consequences of an invasion on peace in Europe, and seemingly all the consequences of the invasion in general.
  • If an invasion makes everyone worse off, it is not justified. Russia is essentially killing a bunch of people for nothing except satisfying Putin’s ego.
“Pro then makes a claim that the turnout was 123% yet, that source returns nothing.   I have a source that says the turnout was 83%”
  • This source says that turnout in the largest city in Crimea was logged at 123%.
  • The point is that Russia is clearly lying about the percentage of voter turnout, indicating that some people are voting twice or that Russian operatives are voting.
  • Nothing says “83%” in CON’s source that I can find. Regardless, differing values would indicate election tampering.
  • Regardless, the election is not legitimate. That’s the point that CON is missing.
“Pro contend that the Agreements were non-binding, so Russia had no right to complain, yet argues Russia was violating them.”
  • The agreements were not legally binding.
  • Russia is not violating the agreements, taking full advantage of the fact that they are not legally binding.
  • Both of these facts clearly give Russia no right to complain.

Essentially, Ukraine has refused to kowtow to the unrealistic demands of a dictator. This does not give said dictator the right to invade their country, commit war crimes against their people, or kidnap thousands of children. I’m not sure if CON is even arguing that any of these things are justified, mostly they seem to be arguing that Russia claims these things are justified.

I find this round very tricky.  I was of the understanding that a final round is for conclusions, and not rebuttals, or the inclusion of new sources or new evidence.  That being said, I shall follow Pro's lead here.

Pro's Case Problems
  • Sovereignty in on itself, does not eliminate or negate justification for military action. If that was the case, no wars would ever be fought.  Pro's is incorrect.
  • Pro is stating that what has happened after the invasion, proves that the invasion itself was not justified.  These can be looked at as two very distinct issues.  However, Pro furthers with a few emotionally charged claims, with very little substance.
    • Genocide.  I did not bring this word up.  Pro did.  If we look at the accusations of Genocide,  Putin made a claim that Ukraine were ethnically clensing the Donbas.   There are a handful of countries that have accused Russia of genocide.   They do NOT include, the US, Germany, France,  the UK, Brazil, India, or China.  No UN accusations of genocide have been levied, nor has Pro shown such.  The articles provided by Pro are all western controlled narratives, yet the US or other major european countries wont declare a genocide?    It is an unsupported claim, and an emotional ploy by Pro.  I don't believe Putin's claims of genocide, nor do I believe the wests.
    • Children.  In 2019, UNICEF issued a report that children were seeing a huge increase in school attacks in the Donbas by Ukraine supported troops and militia.   Both sides evacuated children from the fighting lines,  Ukraine,   Russias response to the accusations by Ukraine, which include over 150 children killed in the Donbas prior to Russias SMO.
  • I have no doubt that both Ukraine and Russia have troops that are not playing by the rules.  In fact it was Ukraines continuous actions in Donbas, despite warnings, and despite appeals to the International community, provided the provocation for Russia to take unilateral action.Nasty things happen in war. Pro is arguing that because nasty things happen, that takes away from the justification, which it does not.  The issue causing the disagreement, needs to be resolved.  
  • Putin's political style is not the issue.  To that end, Pro states 

invading a democratic nation for humanitarian reasons when he fails to give basic rights to his own people is absurd.
This statement is absurd.  Look at the state of every country, and you will see poverty, homelessness, corruption, health care issues, discrimination, marginalized groups.  Every single one.  Setting a standard that a country must have its own borders in complete order, to some external standard, before they can claim a justification for military force is nonsensical.  The world does not work that way.   Regardless, even if Pro's comment was 100% accurate it does not take away from the elements of justification.  It is like saying. "I don't like the way John does things, therefore anything he thinks or does is unjustified."  

  • Pro continues to describe the consequences of the war, including conscription, death counts, and increased military tension, and say that this takes away from the justification of the invasion.  It does not.  It shows the horrors that could have been mitigated if the UN had accepted Russias plea for help and intervened.

Sources - REBUTTAL:
Pro states.

Sources from the West are preferable, since Western countries have freedom of speech and don’t murder reporters as often as Putin.

  • NBC correspondent, Keir Simmons, for reporting from Crimea and giving voice to residents who support the Russian Federation's annexation of their territory. Simmons was placed on the notorious Myrotvorets kill list, which has seen several of its targets assassinated by Ukrainian death squads.I’ve cited a number of sources that aren’t part of any US government agency, including independent legal analyses.  Journalists, advocates and anyone who has a fact based approach, are at risk of being targeted.  Hardly free speech.
  • Countries like Spain,  and Slovakia have taken criminal actions against people for speaking about Russia in a positive way.   Hardly free speech
  • We saw what happened with the media during COVID, with the governments and social media influence via the Twitter Files.   Hardly free speech.
  • Pro relies on a one sided narrative, which is a bias danger, and does not take the totality into consideration.
  • Pro states that because I do not contest the accuracy of some of the reports, therefore they must be true.  Neither of us know the truth.  That is the point.  We have to look at the source, and the objective of why the source is publishing it, do they have first hand account.  We have to read the documents, and not just the headlines.  
  • Pro used a NewYork Times article title, from a guest reporter, to claim something Putin never said.  It is an opinion article, and has no basis in fact other than pro West propoganda.  How else can the US justify sending billions and billions to Ukraine?
  • Pro uses one document from the US to claim it is a "full-invasion" and no other source.  I already demonstrated that the Russian Parliament has not authorized a full invasion.

Other Counters
  • Pro seems to believe that the expansion of NATO, despite assurances, is not provocation, and that NATO is just a defensive alliance.  Tell that to the people of Serbia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria,  and Iraq.  Hardly a defense only organization.  
  • Pro erroneously states that my position is, because Putin doesn't like it, he can go to war, and that is OK.  Clearly I did not say that.  I have shown a multi-decade pattern of escalation, culminating in 8 years of brutal conflict in an area with over 3 million ethnic Russians, and the ignoring of  calls for international help.  
  • Pro says that Ukraine is defending themselves from terrorists, without citation.  I have no problem admitting that there are some terrorists in Donbas, and Terrorists in Ukraine, and they are using ethnicity against each other.  The point I have been making is that this would go away if the UN supervised the implimination of the Minsk Accords, and all parties honoured it.  Russia asked for that before invaded.

  • Pro never refuted:
    • the existence of the ethnic Russian population in the Donbas
    • the referenda in 2014 in the region
    • the ongoing aggression, with a NAZI aligned militia in Ukraine, funded by the West for 8 years pre-invasion
    • Russias history post 1991 on supporting countries for independence
    • the history on how the West interfered with the Ukrainian elections
    • NATO expansion, despite repeated assurance.
    • the Russian efforts to have an agreement, Mink and Minsk II
    • the Russian call for International help, every year in fact
    • the Russian request that the UN supervise and implement the Minsk Acccords
    • the continuous warnings to the West about their roll and the conduct in Ukraine
    • the specific request to Biden for help implementing the accords.
    • the admission from Merkel and Hollande that the accords were just a ruse, to get Ukraine up and running because NATO could not handle a conflict.
  • Pro defended some of that behaviour.  Effectively for Pro, if you are sovereign and there is a civil war, only one side can win.  Tell that to the people of Northern Ireland, East Timor, South Sudan, Kosovo, Albania, Cyprus, Eritrea, Syria, Yemen, LIbya, Rwanda, ........   It doesn't work that way.  Different governments, are going to support different sides for many different reasons, and they all have a justification. 
  • Pro states that the consequences to Europe are being ignored.   Well someone should have told Macron, Hollande, Merkel, Johnston,  and Von Der Leyen, and they could have intervened.  They did not.  
Change of Tune

Pro said in Round 2:
  • Russia violated the Minsk agreements much more severely than Ukraine by refusing to stop fighting and claiming it was not bound by the agreement. If Russia claims it never agreed to the Minsk accords, then how can the Russian government claim that Ukraine violated an agreement with them?
In Round 3:
Russia violates the Minsk accords and then gaslights Ukraine by acting like a much smaller nation is posing a threat by defending themselves.

But then later in Round 3:
Russia is not violating the agreements, taking full advantage of the fact that they are not legally binding.

So either Russia was violating or was not.  It looks like Pro needs to change their tune and say that the agreements were not binding, so Russia had nothing to complain about, because they see the long list of reasons that Putin would use to justify defending ethnic Russian speakers.  Judges please see this pivot.


Pro's position is that because Putin is bad, and Ukraine is sovereign, there is no justification.  That may be their personal view. And without conceding, I would hope that more could have been done, on all fronts. 

The resolution is,  "Russia's invasion of Ukraine beginning in 2022 was unjustified", clearly from a Russian perspective there was justification.  However, even from a pacifist perspective, when you look at the list of the non-refutes, and I think most importantly, the UN was asked by Russia to intervene and supervise.  They literally tried to give the keys to someone else to prevent escalation.  That was refused.  3 million ethnic Russians, in a civil war, and what is Putin to do?

On that final note, I will point out, that Pro gave 0 alternatives.  None.  A great way to defeat are argument of justification is to show alternatives.  Putin asked for them, and the UN said no.  Putin asked for them, and Macron said no.  Putin asked for them and Johnson said no.  Putin asked for them and Merkel said no.  Putin asked for them and Zelenskey said no.

When you look at the totality, you can see the justification.  This does not mean you agree with it.  It does not mean you support it.  It does not mean you are a Putin lover.  It means that you can see the totality of the facts.

I want to thank Savant for a great debate.  The formatting was easy to read, most of the sourced were easily accessible, and there were no ad homonyms.  

Vote Con