NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses the 68th annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Nov. 21, 2022. Photo courtesy of NATO.
NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly unanimously approved resolutions on Monday, Nov. 21, urging member nations to designate Russia a terrorist regime and to investigate Russian officials for war crimes in Ukraine.
“Today, we will adopt a resolution that calls on all allies to clearly identify the Russian Federation and its current regime as a terrorist organization,” NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Gerry Connolly, an American, said prior to Monday’s vote
Representatives from all 30 NATO members unanimously adopted Resolution 479 during Monday's meeting in Madrid. The measure advises NATO member countries to take a number of steps to support Ukraine and condemn Russia, including "to state clearly that the Russian state under the current regime is a terrorist one," as well as "to take collective action towards the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression committed by Russia with its war against Ukraine."
Julia Kazdobina, Head of the Ukrainian Foundation for Security Studies, called the measure "an important step in the direction of holding Russian officials accountable."
"Although these are political declarations at this point they do make the first step, and I am sure other steps in the same direction will follow," Kazdobina told Coffee or Die Magazine.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meets with the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. Photo courtesy of NATO.
Separately adopted Monday, NATO's Resolution 478 targets Kremlin leadership, urging member states to "hold Russian leaders accountable for any war crimes that they have committed, including through the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression."
“Such a tribunal will make it possible to convict not only the direct perpetrators of war crimes but also senior Russian leadership,” Ukrainian lawmaker Yehor Cherniev, head of Ukraine’s permanent delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, wrote Monday on Facebook.
Founded in 1955, NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly comprises 269 delegates from all 30 member countries. The body also includes representatives from NATO partner and associate countries, as well as observers from other countries and international bodies. Speaking at Monday’s Parliamentary Assembly meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia underestimated Ukraine's fighting strength, as well as NATO’s resolve. He also underscored the importance of continued support for Ukraine as the war nears its one-year mark.
“We need to stay the course together on Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said. “If we allow [Russian President Vladimir Putin] to win, all of us will have to pay a much higher price. Authoritarian regimes around the world will learn that they can get what they want with brute force.”
Valeriy, a Territorial Defense soldier, at the ruins of his home in Moshchun, Ukraine, in April 2022. Photo by Nolan Peterson/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Monday’s resolutions called for more NATO weapons deliveries to Ukraine, and also included a Ukrainian request to collect war damage reparations from Russia. Resolution 479 urged member countries "to agree on the next steps towards Ukraine’s NATO membership."
"We also call on our governments to take the next steps towards Ukraine's accession to NATO. We have repeatedly stressed that we will not recognize any illegal attempts by Russia to annex sovereign territories of Ukraine," Connolly said.
Russia continues to fire missiles and exploding drones against Ukrainian civilian targets. According to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russia has launched some 4,700 missiles at Ukraine during nine months of full-scale warfare. And while Ukrainian forces liberate territories from Russian occupation, they frequently discover, almost as a matter of course, the grisly evidence of the mass rape, torture, and murder of Ukrainian citizens at the hands of Russian troops.
“Hundreds of our cities are simply burned. Thousands of people died. Hundreds of thousands were forcibly deported to Russia. Millions left Ukraine for other countries, fleeing the war. We have to stop it. We must stop Russian aggression,” Zelenskyy said during a Sunday address.
Apart from NATO, several other international bodies have recently condemned Russia for its war crimes in Ukraine.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a resolution on Oct. 14, designating the Russian Federation a terrorist regime. For its part, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on Nov. 14 condemning Russia for its international law violations in Ukraine and calling for reparations. Ninety-four countries voted in favor of the UN resolution, while 73 countries abstained, and 14 — including China and Iran — voted against it.
On Wednesday, Nov. 23, the European Parliament will also vote on a resolution to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. According to a Thursday European Parliament statement, Russia “has intensified its strikes on civilian targets, including energy infrastructure, hospitals, medical facilities, schools and shelters — violating international law and international humanitarian law in the process.”
The statement added: “By declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, [European Parliament Members] want to prepare the ground for Putin and his government to be held accountable for these crimes before an international tribunal.”
Washington previously shied away from designating Moscow a state sponsor of terror. Some experts argue the move could sever the back-channel communications with Moscow needed to defuse a potential nuclear standoff.
Although Ukraine has made recent gains and turned the war’s tide in its favor, NATO’s Stoltenberg said there are still tough days ahead.
“It would be a great mistake to underestimate Russia,” Stoltenberg said Monday. “It retains significant military capabilities and a high number of troops. Russia is willing to suffer substantial casualties, and is willing to inflict horrific suffering on Ukrainian people. We have seen drone and missiles striking Ukrainian cities, civilians, and critical infrastructure. So we must be prepared to support Ukraine for the long haul.”