History Ph.D. Dissertations


Lawfare: Use of the Definition of Aggressive War by the Soviet and Russian Governments

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Don Rowney

Second Advisor

Gi Woong Yun (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Gary Hess (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

John Quigley (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Marina Sorokina (Committee Member)


This dissertation seeks to contribute to the understanding of the definition of the terms aggression and aggressive war by tracing the political, legal and military use of the terms by the Soviet Union from that posed at the 1933 Convention for the Definition of Aggression to the definition posed by the Russian Federation to the International Criminal Court in 1999. One might ask why the Soviet Union so adamantly promoted a definition of aggression and aggressive war while, as many have noted, conducting military actions that appeared to violate the very definition they espoused in international treaties and conventions. This dissertation demonstrates that through the use of treaties the Soviet Union and Russian Federation practiced a program of lawfare long before the term became known. Lawfare, as used by the Soviet Union and Russian Federation, is the manipulation or exploitation of the international legal system to supplement military and political objectives. The Soviet Union and Russian Federation used these legal restrictions to supplement military strategy in an attempt, not to limit themselves, but to control other states legally, politically, and equally as important, publicly, through the use of propaganda.