Absolutely cynical attacks by Russian troops on Ukrainian civilian objects are outright acts of terrorism carried out at the state level.
For us, Ukrainians, it has already become some kind of routine to read reports every day: in such a city the Russians shelled such objects, so many people were killed, so many wounded, among them so many children... How long can this continue in the 21st century?
Since the number of such attacks has increased significantly over the past two weeks, it is high time to get to the bottom of their causes and the goals that are pursued by the Putin regime in this regard.
Shelling of peaceful Ukrainian cities
Between June 25 and July 3, the Russians carried out a record series of massive and targeted attacks on many peaceful Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kremenchuk, Mykolaiv, Dnipro, Odessa, the Sumy, Chernihiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions. As a result, dozens of civilians, including children, were killed and wounded. Not to mention the damaged and destroyed social infrastructure, because the occupiers shamelessly aimed their missiles at residential buildings, hospitals, kindergartens, schools, shopping centers, tourist centers and other places of mass gathering of people.
The greatest number of victims we have as a result of the June 27 shelling of the shopping center in Kremenchuk – as of July 6: 28 dead + 29 more body fragments were found during debris removal, 22 people are still missing.
On the night of July 1, Russian terrorists (how else should we call them?) struck the Odessa region – 21 people were killed, including one child. 39 people were injured, of whom three children and a pregnant woman were rescued from under the rubble. Another four people died on the territory of a tourist camp.
On July 5, the occupants carried out massive shelling of Sloviansk, Donetsk region. A fire at the central market (!) left one person dead and seven injured. Earlier, on July 3, a mass shelling caused 15 fires in the city, killing six people (including one child), injuring 19, and damaging 40 dwelling houses. And then there are dozens of victims in other Ukrainian cities – in the Kharkiv region alone there were 20 deaths during the week.
Why are they doing this?
Russia, Putin – they understand only the language of power. And they speak it. But as we can see, more than four months have passed, and the “second army of the world” has not achieved significant strategic successes on the battlefield.
Many military experts note that the Russians are not succeeding in fighting against the Ukrainian army at that level of effectiveness which they hoped for at the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Therefore, they have launched a parallel direct war against the Ukrainian civilian population.
Is that what a real army does? But it has long been clear to all of us that for today's Russia the laws and customs of warfare are as hollow as other international agreements.
But, of course, in doing so they pursue certain goals.
What for are they doing this?
First of all, to intimidate the Ukrainian people. After all, the main meaning of any terror is intimidation.
The purpose of intimidation is to break the spirit and unity of the Ukrainian people. And in this way to force the Ukrainian leadership to negotiations (which Moscow, not Kiev, is so eager for!) and to certain concessions (of course, on Moscow's terms!).
But Putin continues to underestimate the Ukrainian people, a mistake he has been making since the beginning of the invasion.
It doesn’t work that way with us. Zelensky will not make substantial concessions to Moscow because ... the very next day he will cease to be the president. The Ukrainian president's firm position on this issue is a reflection of the firm position of most Ukrainians. And it is important that this is understood not only in Russia, but also in the West!
However, it is worth paying attention to another dimension. Why did the attacks on Ukrainian civilian objects and civilians intensify last week? When the G7 summit and NATO summit took place.
What did Putin want to show the world leaders? Apparently his ‘power’ and that he is not afraid. That he is confident of his impunity. The West is often inert and conservative in its decision-making – and Putin is taking advantage of this.
On June 28, at Ukraine's request, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting at which its members condemned the Russian attack on the Kremenchuk shopping center.
Meanwhile, Putin commented on the attack: “There was no terrorist attack, no explosion. [...] The Russian army does not strike any civilian objects. There is no need for that.” In such a way he demonstrates absolute cynicism and disregard for any statements of world leaders. That is, the STATEMENTS have no effect on him.
Thus, the terrorist attacks (the orders for which undoubtedly come directly from the Kremlin) have two main purposes: 1) pressure on the Ukrainian people and leadership, 2) the Kremlin's demonstration to the West of its sense of impunity. And seeing the lack of a tangible response from world leaders, they will continue.
Is Russia a terrorist state?
For Ukrainians, the answer has long been obvious – YES! In his speech at the UN Security Council on June 28, President Zelensky formulated this in such a way:
“And I have a question for you, ladies and gentlemen: who among you does not agree that this is terrorism? If any organization in any part of the world killed any civilians in the same way that Russia kills Ukrainians, it would definitely be recognized as terrorism. Such an organization would become an enemy to all mankind. Consequently, what is punished at the level of specific criminals and criminal organizations should not go unpunished at the level of a state that has become a terrorist state. Daily acts of terrorism. No days off. Every day they work as terrorists.”
So what about official international recognition of the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism?
Unfortunately, nowadays, the UN does not have a legal definition of a “terrorist state” agreed upon by all UN member states. But this war that Russia is waging against Ukraine demonstrates not only the content of this concept, but also the urgent need to enshrine it legally, at the UN level, and to punish any terrorist state.
The U.S. State Department applies the “state sponsors of terrorism” designation to countries that the department claims have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”. The list currently includes four states: Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria.
In a June 23 resolution, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for Russia to be recognized as a sponsor of terrorism. The final decision on this issue should be made by the Presidential Administration. According to the senators, the resolution is expected to receive strong support during the Senate vote, and this will be an argument for the State Department.
What would such a status of Russia give? Experts point out that it would have a great symbolic value. Recognizing a country as a sponsor of terrorism definitively turns it into an “outlaw state”.
It would be more difficult for countries that take a neutral stance on Russia's war against Ukraine to communicate with Russia, because then they would have to indicate in official communications that Russia is recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism.
If the US State Department recognizes a country as a sponsor of terrorism, it imposes additional financial and sanctions restrictions on that country as a whole and on its individual representatives. Even countries that have not recognized this and continued to cooperate with Russia would be placed under closer scrutiny by those countries that have recognized Russia as a sponsor of terrorism.
If granting Russia this official status would help change the situation in Ukraine for the better and prevent the deaths of dozens of civilians and children, we must make every effort to ensure that Russia is recognized as a terrorist state at the global level.
Author - Anastasiya Glotova, 06/07/2022