What does it take to become a pariah?
If to be a pariah means becoming a social outcast in relation to all accepted norms, how does Putin’s policy and actions over Ukraine look? There are two sets of 10 Commandments that are our common rule book of civilised behaviour.
The first most directly relevant set of norms are those of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, signed by the USSR and equally binding on its successor state, Russia. This is a set of 10 diplomatic commandments, of which the following six are the standards by which Putin’s foreign and security policy in Ukraine may be judged:
I. Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
II. Refraining from the threat or use of force
III. Inviolability of frontiers
IV. Territorial integrity of States
V. Peaceful settlement of disputes
VI. Non-intervention in internal affairs
On the Helsinki principles Putin is thus a serial offender in Ukraine on a grand scale.
A frequent complaint by Putin, as for example in his Crimea annexation speech in Moscow on 18 March 2014, is that the international rule book was invented by the West and imposed on the Rest, which makes his defiance of these rules a noble cause. However what is striking about Helsinki norm No. VI, about non-interference, is that this has become also the first rule of international behaviour promoted by the BRICS all together. What do Brazil, China, India and South Africa think about this, on how Russia is affecting the reputation of the BRICS?
Moving down from the diplomatic level to norms of personal morality, Russia shares with Europe our Christian heritage, and thus the 10 Commandments of Moses. Particularly relevant are:
VI. ‘Thou shall not murder’ … MH17 (similar to Khadaffi’s Lockerbie)
VIII ‘Thou shall not steal’ … Crimea
IX. ‘Thou shall not give false testimony against thy neighbour’ … Kyiv is run by ‘fascists’.
Overall Putin would seem now to be outstandingly qualified as a pariah.