The Federation Council unanimously gave permission to President Vladimir Putin to use the Russian army in the Donbass. The corresponding appeal was received by the upper house of parliament this afternoon. According to the Constitution, this issue is decided by the upper house of parliament. This is the third time in recent years that senators have allowed the head of state to use Russian troops outside the country. In 2014, such a decision was made in connection with the aggravation of the situation in the Crimea, then in 2015 – for the participation of the Russian military in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. The decision taken today, according to the senators, is aimed at protecting the population of Donbass and preventing a “large-scale war.”
According to the Constitution of Russia, the decision on the possibility of using the Russian army outside the country is the responsibility of the Federation Council. In such cases, the president’s appeal is submitted to the chamber, then it is considered in the relevant committees and submitted to the plenary session. In this regard, the meeting of the upper house on Tuesday was divided into two parts: in the afternoon, the senators ratified the cooperation agreements with the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, and in the evening, after a break, they considered the address of the head of state that had been received by that moment.
The President’s address to the members of the Federation Council was read by his official representative, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov. Before reading the text, Mr. Pankov once again explained the reasons for Vladimir Putin’s decision. All of them were repeatedly cited the day before, during a meeting of the Security Council, and then during the ratification of agreements with the DPR and LPR: deadlock in negotiations with Kiev, violence and bloodshed in the Donbass, the deployment of Ukrainian armed forces near the borders of the republics, the supply of weapons to Ukraine from NATO countries , evacuation of refugees. According to Mr. Pankov, more than 100,000 people, including almost 30,000 children, have left the territories of the LPR and DPR to date.
Then the Deputy Minister of Defense read out the text of the appeal, in which Vladimir Putin asks, in pursuance of the treaties of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with the LPR and the DPR, to allow the use of the Russian armed forces outside the state “on the basis of generally recognized norms of international law.” “The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics is very complicated, it tends to worsen, we must protect the inhabitants of these young states,” Mr. Pankov added on his own behalf.
The text of the resolution of the Federation Council was read out by the head of the State Construction Committee Andrei Klishas. According to the document, the number of formations of the armed forces, the areas of their operations, the tasks they face and the period of stay outside the country are determined by the President of Russia.
Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev recalled that this is not the first time in Russia that a decision has been made to give consent to the head of state for the use of the army abroad. In 2014, such a decision was made in relation to Ukraine, then it was withdrawn by the Federation Council. At the meeting today, Mr. Kosachev did not dwell on the details of the events of 2014, confining himself to stating that the permission to use the armed forces contributed to the emergence of the Minsk agreements. For the second time, such an appeal by the head of state was considered in September 2015 to allow the president to send Russian troops to Syria. On September 30, the senators gave their consent; neither the area of application of the aircraft abroad, nor the terms were specified this time, therefore, formally, the decree is still in effect. In particular, in November 2020, Vladimir Putin referred to him in a decree on peacekeeping measures in Nagorno-Karabakh.
An informed interlocutor of Kommersant in the presidential administration made it clear that now a new consent of the senators was needed, since the previous one was given almost seven years ago.
Today’s ruling duplicates the 2015 document verbatim, except for the date. According to Mr. Klishas, the resolution has one goal: “To prevent a large-scale war, which, obviously, would be dreamed of both in Kiev and outside of present-day Ukraine.” Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko, before the announcement of the vote, noted that the decision is aimed at establishing peace in the Donbass and creating normal conditions for the life of the local population. As a result, the resolution allowing Vladimir Putin to send troops to the territory of Donbass was adopted unanimously by all the senators present – 153 people against 155 at the afternoon session.
According to political scientist Alexei Makarkin, the entry of Russian troops into the Donbass required a new decision by the Federation Council, since it is now difficult to predict the development of the situation, especially if the republics insist on the borders in which they were proclaimed in 2014. This, according to the political scientist, will create a risk of escalation of the conflict and expansion of hostilities. In this case, the significance of the absolute procedural legitimacy of the operation will be especially great – it may go beyond the “peacekeeping operation in the classical sense” (such were the operations in Nagorno-Karabakh and Kazakhstan, where Russian troops were used as part of the CSTO group from January 6 to 15). Political scientist Yevgeny Minchenko also believes that a separate decision of the Federation Council had to be made “for a specific reason and country”: “Otherwise, it was accepted once – and then what, can it be used all over the globe?” “Apart from the Yabloko party, no one else in Russia believes that there is permission from the Federation Council to use troops abroad, anywhere and for all time,” Senator Andrey Klishas told Kommersant.