In Feb 2022, president Zelensky declared martial law and general mobilization. Is there a more formal declaration of [state of] war he (or the Rada) could have issued, according to the Ukrainian constitution? (Like e.g. the US declared after being attacked by Japan in 1941.)

  • 1
    Not a criticism, but something that came to mind when looking at your question: declaration of war is an ambiguous term, since it may be understood as declaring war on somebody OR declaring a state of war... or declaring a state of war between X and Y - all with very different connotations.
    – Roger V.
    Jun 8, 2022 at 7:37

1 Answer 1


Under the current Constitution of Ukraine (Official translation to English is here) the power to make a formal declaration of war is specifically enumerated in Article 85 and given to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) in paragraph 9:

  1. to declare war, upon the recommendation made by the President of Ukraine, and make peace, approve a decision of the President of Ukraine on the use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations in the event of armed aggression against Ukraine.

Under Article 106 it is the President's duty to submit to the Verkhovna Rada "a declaration of a state of war" in paragraph 19. In paragraph 20:

  1. adopt, in accordance with law, a decision on the general or partial mobilisation and the introduction of martial law in Ukraine or in its particular territories, in the event of a threat of aggression or danger to the independence of Ukraine;

Because these powers are separately enumerated, President Zelensky has visibly exercised his 106-20 powers. This is likely strategic, since 106-19 is an inherently escalatory power whereas 106-20 enables Ukraine to respond with military force without first announcing intentions to enter a state of war. 106-20 is all about responding to attack, and so is an inherently defensive stance (not that such a power is free from abuse). 106-19 also still requires the legislature to approve the declaration of war.

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    There is also something else to keep in mind. Russia law allows for mass mobilization only under a state of war. And apparently, war, the term and legal situation is an exceptionally fraught term for Russians, for whom it holds a lot of bad associations. So far Putin has not crossed that political bridge, as he was somewhat expected to for May 9th parade. Ukraine most certainly does not want to give him that for free. Jun 7, 2022 at 16:59
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica: yeah, good point that it may not be politically desirable for Ukraine to issue a formal declaration. On the other hand, they did strike a few targets in Russia with helicopters, so that lack of a formal declaration wasn't really an impediment in that regard. Jun 8, 2022 at 13:37

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