In the very first line of his classic novel Anna Karenina, great Leo Tolstoy wrote that ‘[h]appy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’. In the same manner, one could say that all countries living in peace are all alike, whereas every country that goes through a war is tragic in its own way. Currently ongoing war in Ukraine is one of its kind. Perhaps it is unfair to compare it to armed conflicts that happened elsewhere throughout the history. And importantly, it is still current and ongoing. So, many comparisons and accounts will inevitably be speculative. Nonetheless, after seeing and reading what was going on in Ukraine since February 2022, many were reminded of the tragedies of the Yugoslav wars that occurred in the territories of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo during the 1990s. The siege of Kiev in the first part of the Russian invasion was compared to the siege of Sarajevo, which lasted from 1992 to 1995. Massacre in Bucha was compared to the killings of captured civilians and prisoners of war in Vukovar in 1991. And the faith of Mariupol was compared to the faith of Srebrenica, where genocide was committed in 1995.
For scholars and students of law, parallels with the Yugoslav wars provide opportunities for thinking about what the role of (international and EU) law in the war in Ukraine is or could/should be. In this Commentary Series (Ukraine Special Collection), the authors offer several thoughts on War in Ukraine: Politics, Law, and Identity.