The Kremlin’s Malign Legal Operations on the Black Sea: Analyzing the Exploitation of Public International Law Against Ukraine

Brad Fisher


This article seeks to analyze the asymmetric manipulation and exploitation of legal domains to achieve political objectives. A multidisciplinary analysis is offered to explore the perversion of the law to shape legitimacy, contain adversaries, justify violations, escape obligations, and ultimately to advantageously revise the international and domestic rule of law. Colloquially known as lawfare, this article offers a discourse analysis of the term and asserts that a more doctrinally appropriate phrase exists to describe this phenomenon; Malign Legal Operations (MALOPs). Furthermore, this article asserts that MALOPs are the root of contemporary hybrid warfare and that all other hybrid means are secondary. In particular, the Russian Federation’s behavior towards Ukraine in the Black Sea region is used as a case study to determine the extent of these MALOPs and to explore what measures can be taken to defend the rule of law.
The primary example offered is Russia’s November 25th, 2018 attack on three Ukrainian Naval vessels in the Kerch Strait and its capture of 24 sailors. Supplementary examples include the annexation of Crimea, manipulations of the Montreux Convention, and Russia’s overall aggression towards Ukraine.

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Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal

ISSN 2414-9942

National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
2 Skovoroda St., Kyiv 04070, Ukraine


Creative Commons License
This journal is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License