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War from a Geneva point of view

February 21st, 2023

One year ago, on February 24, 2022, Russia invaded the territories of Ukraine. A "special operation" intended to help Ukraine "get rid of the Nazis that are gangrenous in the country" according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. On September 30 of the same year, Vladimir Putin made official the annexation of four territories in the east and south of Ukraine. However, fighting continues in these regions. The West provided defensive military support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Within a year, the Ukrainians have achieved several successes, which led to the restriction of Russian mobilization, from 21 September 2022.

Among the casualties of this war are six dead in the Russian annexation of Crimea (2014), more than 14,000 civilian and military deaths in the war in Donbass (2014-2022) and tens of thousands of civilian and military deaths in the Russian invasion of Ukraine (since 2022). According to the UN, 7,000 civilians have died in 2022 since February 24. According to U.S. Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley, the conflict in Ukraine has resulted in nearly 200,000 military casualties between dead and wounded. This total is split almost equally between Kiev and Moscow.

Word of peace and humanitarian law

Kiev's European allies have announced the delivery of tanks and ammunition. Norway will send 8 "Leopard 2" tanks. France and Australia have agreed to jointly produce 155 mm shells to equip the Ukrainian army. France and Italy have also agreed to deliver air defense systems. Berlin has ordered new ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft systems for Ukraine, which will be produced in Germany. These shells are normally manufactured in Switzerland, but Bern refuses to give its approval in order to maintain its neutral status. Today, February 21, Vladimir Putin delivers his speech to the nation from Moscow, a speech intended to inform the country about the situation in Ukraine.

The situation in Ukraine has led us to reflect, on the basis of historical archives of Geneva-based organizations such as the ICRC and the UN, on how to analyze this war in Europe in the light of the history of European and world conflicts over the last 150 years, through the great speeches for peace and the adoption of the Geneva Conventions by the belligerent countries. Both dossiers are freely accessible and contain explanatory podcasts and interviews, articles, video and photographic archives from our partners such as the UN, the ICRC, the ILO and the Geneva Library.

Enjoy your visit on our collaborative platform,

David Glaser for geneveMonde.ch

Photo ICRC

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