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Lithuania designates Russia as a terrorist country, a global first

Demonstrators protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine at Independence Square in front of the Parliament Palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 24, 2022. Lithuania's parliament has since declared Russia a perpetrator of terrorism and genocide.
Petras Malukas
/
AFP via Getty Images
Demonstrators protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine at Independence Square in front of the Parliament Palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 24, 2022. Lithuania's parliament has since declared Russia a perpetrator of terrorism and genocide.

Lithuania's parliament has designated Russia a terrorist country and its actions in Ukraine as genocide.

The Lithuanian Seimas tweeted Tuesday that its members had passed the resolution unanimously.

This makes Lithuania the first country to declare Russia a perpetrator of terrorism, according to Ukraine's Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security. It's not the first to formally accuse Russia of genocide: Canadian lawmakers unanimously adopted such a motion last month.

Lithuania's resolution says that Russia's armed forces and mercenaries have committed war crimes in Ukraine, citing the atrocities reported in places Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Borodyaka, Hostomel and other cities, according to public broadcaster Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT).

"The Russian Federation, whose military forces deliberately and systematically target civilian targets, is a state that supports and perpetrates terrorism," the resolution reads.

It also recognizes "the full-scale armed aggression — war — against Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation and its political and military leadership [...] as genocide against the Ukrainian people."

LRT says the resolution describes Russia's intent as destroying Ukraine and breaking its spirit by "killing entire families, including children, abducting and raping people, and mocking them and the bodies of the murdered."

Lawmakers are calling for Russia to be held accountable for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. They are advocating for the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate Russia's actions, and want it to have the power to issue international arrest warrants.

Ukranian officials are praising Lithuania's resolution. Ruslan Stefanchuk, chairman of Ukraine's parliament, described it as "historic" in posts on social media.

"I urge the whole world to pick up the baton so that the memory of the mass murders of Ukrainians has never been erased by the enemy!" he said.

Still, the declaration is not without risks. It could worsen the former Soviet republic's increasingly tense relationship with Russia, as one expert noted on Tuesday.

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst and associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, tweeted that Lithuania's moves were provoking "harsh reactions in Moscow," with one Russian legislator warning that Russia could completely cut off economic ties with the country.

Lithuania, which is a member of NATO, has taken other concrete steps to distance itself from Russia since the start of its war in Ukraine. In April, it became the first European Union nation to stop Russian gas imports.

And, most recently, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called for regime change in Russia in a Monday interview with the Associated Press: "As long as a regime that intends to wage wars outside Russian territory is in place, the countries surrounding it are in danger."


This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

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