In 2020 Putin signed a law that on Russian territory Russian law supersedes international agreements. The actual wording nullifies international agreements that contradict the Constitution of Russian Federation, but, given that Putin can change the Russian Constitution at will, with pro forma referendum, of course, he can nullify anything he wills.

Now the question: does the rejection of the priority of international agreements over domestic law nullifies Russia's ability to demand that other countries fulfill (different) international agreements? Can Russia say "I am not bound by agreement A because it violates the Russian Constitution I just amended to contradict A, but I demand you to comply with a different agreement B?"

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    "Can X demand that Y do Z" is usually the wrong question to be asking in the context of law, and especially in foreign relations. Country X can demand anything they want, there is no authority that could stop them. But conversely, there is also no authority to force Y to comply with that demand, be it righteous or not. So it really comes down to "does X have sufficient leverage over Y to make them comply", and that is geopolitics, not law. Mar 20, 2022 at 2:27

1 Answer 1


International law is always subordinate to domestic law.

In the Westphalian world we live in, all power rests with each and every Sovereign nation. International law is a creation of those nations and only has force where the affected nation acquiesces to it.

For example, the US and Russia have refused to sign up to the International Criminal Court so that court has no jurisdiction in their territory or over their citizens. North Korea has refused to sign the Berne convention so there is no protection of foreign copyright there.

Similarly, a nation, having entered a treaty, can revoke that treaty. There would be consequences but these would be geo-political, not legal.

Of course nations can and do behave hypocritically - insisting that others follow the law they ignore.


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