Brand Putin’s armies and mercenaries as terrorists in response to atrocities say the Liberal Democrats
Following the atrocities uncovered in Bucha and Irpin, Liberal Democrats are calling for Russian military units involved to be proscribed by the UK Government.
In his address to the House of Commons in March 2022, President Zelensky asked Parliament to, "please recognise [Russia] as a terrorist state".
The Liberal Democrats are proposing the use of proscription orders as part of a renewed package of measures in response to the atrocities being committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
The proposed measures include the expulsion of Russian diplomats based in Britain; and for the UK to lead calls at the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Putin.
The use of proscription orders would designate Russian military units and mercenary groups, including the Wagner Group, as terrorist organisations.
Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson commented:
"In light of the atrocities in Bucha, we cannot offer empty words while Putin and his soldiers continue to butcher innocent Ukrainian civilians.
"Last month, President Zelensky called on Parliament to recognise Russia as a terrorist state. It is clear beyond all doubt that Russian mercenaries and military units are waging a war of terror on the Ukrainian people.
"By proscribing these groups, they will be branded as terrorist organisations. This will make anyone engaging with them, anywhere in the world, in violation of UK law - putting pressure on those who have dealings with Putin's mercenaries to pick a side.
"We must also work with our international partners to ramp up the pressure on Putin. That means following our allies and expelling Russian diplomats - and treating Putin as the international criminal he is by leading calls for the ICC to issue an international arrest warrant."
The Terrorism Act 2000 provides the basis on which groups can be proscribed, including, "the need to support other members of the international community in the global fights against terrorism".
As proscription orders have extrajudicial characteristics, issuing them for Russian mercenary groups and military units would mean that anyone engaging them, anywhere in the world, would be breaking UK law.
The Wagner Group were reportedly sent into Ukraine in an attempt to assassinate President Zelensky. They have also reportedly carried out activities in several countries including Mali, the Central African Republic and Venezuela.