Petition: Declare Russia a Terrorist State
Here is why:
Acts of international terrorism by the Russian government, carried out by its armed forces and special services, have been consistently increasing over the past two decades.
In 1994, Ukraine, the world’s third-largest nuclear capability at the time, voluntarily renounced it on the basis of territorial integrity guarantees, as enshrined in the Budapest Memorandum signed by the United States, Great Britain, Russia, as well as France, and China. However, in 2014, Russia unilaterally violated the Memorandum by occupying Crimea and 1/3 of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where it formed terrorist entities, the so-called DNR and LNR.
In March 2014, Russia, using Ukraine’s confidence and good faith in granting permission to deploy Russian military bases in Crimea, organised a pseudo-referendum on Crimea’s accession to Russia and, annexed Crimea. Following this russian sabotage units occupied the town of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, and later several other cities and districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions where they instigated a proxy war and committed acts of terrorism with many civilian casualties (including the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by Russian-controlled forces using Russian-supplied military equipment, killing all 298 civilians aboard).
On 24 February 2022, Russia launched an unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since then the armed forces of the Russian Federation, have been inflicting missile attacks and bombing airstrikes (including using cluster munitions and other explosive weapons with wide-area effects) against Ukrainian cities and towns, destroying residential buildings, hospitals, schools, kindergartens, damaging nuclear power plants, historic buildings, churches, and critical civil infrastructure facilities, as well as threatening the world with the use of nuclear weapons.
Over 7 months, Russia has engaged in deliberate and systematic bombing of civilian targets with over 3,000 missiles launched, which has so far resulted in over 6,000 civilian casualties including almost 400 children. OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.
Damage has been inflicted on at least 131,300 civilian homes (>45 million square meters of housing destroyed), >900 education facilities, and ~2,500 healthcare facilities (including hundreds of hospitals completely destroyed).
After the Russian withdrawal from areas north of Kyiv, there was overwhelming evidence of war crimes by Russian forces. Mainly in the town of Bucha, where evidence later emerged of a massacre perpetrated by Russian troops, including torture, mutilation, rape, looting, and the deliberate killings of civilians. Other Ukrainian towns suffered a similar fate (most recently Izyum, where the crimes committed by the Russian military are still being uncovered), alongside attempts to erase every trace of Ukrainian identity in the temporarily occupied towns. Other instances that could be deemed terrorism include the firing of Russian missiles at a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, killing at least 20 people and injuring dozens more, and the siege of Mariupol, where the Russian assault killed as many as 22,000 civilians and destroyed 95% of the city. Condemnation at the level of political rhetoric is not enough for this mass murder.
Russia’s ongoing and brutal military actions in Ukraine, apart from being illegal, provide fresh evidence of terrorist activities on an almost daily basis, primarily through continuous attacks on civilians, with the intention of achieving a political goal. This is one of the basic definitions of terrorism.
This clearly demonstrates that the Russian government, its armed forces, and special services are both sponsors and perpetrators of international terrorism. Those who engage in terrorism to achieve political or other goals must be isolated and punished. Those who support it deserve the same.
The time for incrementalism is over. The Russian state treats its aggression against Ukraine as a decisive battle against the West. Russia has already been expelled from many important international organisations, as it no longer shows a desire to participate in global affairs within the framework of traditional multilateral institutions.
Declaring Russia a terrorist state would allow for secondary sanctions to be imposed on any entity or individual trading or supporting Russia government bodies, including state-owned banks. This would also prevent NZ entities from funding terrorism, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Russians seeking to enter NZ would face heightened restrictions. The impact would also be significant on New Zealand public opinion, preventing the attention to the Ukrainian tragedy from “cooling down”.
War crimes versus acts of terrorism are distinctions without a difference. The kind, extent, and purpose of premeditated, politically motivated violence that the Russian state is deploying against Ukrainian noncombatants is shocking. It demands a fitting response.
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