International Neutrality Law and U.S. Military Assistance to Ukraine [April 26, 2022]   [open pdf - 751KB]

From the Document: "The United States, the European Union [hyperlink] (EU), and others have supplied many forms of security assistance to Ukraine in the weeks since Russia's invasion. Recent [hyperlink] U.S. assistance [hyperlink] to Ukraine, discussed in an earlier In Focus [hyperlink], ranges from ammunition to anti-aircraft weapons to communications systems. At the same time, the United States has stopped short of sending some military equipment requested [hyperlink] by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, such as combat aircraft [hyperlink]. Deciding which arms to provide raises a variety of legal, political, and practical considerations, including the potential for escalation [hyperlink] with Russia, the Ukrainian military's capacity to operate the equipment, and the risk that Russia could reverse engineer [hyperlink] captured equipment. While international law is just one facet of this calculus, media outlets report that the Biden Administration discussed questions [hyperlink] about the legality [hyperlink] of U.S. security assistance, and observers [hyperlink] have analyzed [hyperlink] whether supplying arms could violate the international law of neutrality. International neutrality law governs [hyperlink] the legal relationship between countries that are not taking part in an international armed conflict ('neutral states') and those that are engaged in such a conflict ('belligerents'). The international community developed the principles of the international law of neutrality in an era before the Charter of the United Nations (U.N.) prohibited [hyperlink] using force as a tool to resolve international conflict. Scholars have described the law of neutrality as an 'old body of law' [hyperlink] with a 'slightly musty quality' [hyperlink] that does not always translate to modern warfare."

Report Number:
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10735
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
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