Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.
Ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, there have been growing calls to designate the country as a state sponsor of terrorism. Several nations have already done so, including Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Slovakia, whose previous National Assembly approved the legislation on February 16, 2023. Russia has also been recognized as a terrorist state by the European Parliament, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
The Ukrainian community has long been urging Canada to follow suit, noting that such action would add to the international isolation of Russia and perhaps prompt the United States to do the same. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in May 2022, urging the Government to designate the Russian Federation as a state supporter of terrorism. It followed that up with an August 2022 media release in which it called Russia a terrorist state waging a genocidal war on Ukraine, adding: “In its war against Ukraine, Russia is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a scale not seen in Europe since WWII. Russia is a criminal, terrorist state that must be isolated completely from the international community and Canada’s government should follow the example of our European allies.”
Last year, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) mailed over a thousand postcards to Members of Parliament, Canadian Senators, various Ambassadors and others calling for the Government of Canada to act. “Thirteen months is more than enough to confirm the obvious: from thousands of attacks on civilian targets, to the destruction of civilian infrastructure, to the withholding of grain exports to the world, to nuclear blackmail – all of this behaviour is nothing but terroristic. We call upon the Government of Canada to step forward and become a world leader by officially labelling the Russian Federation for what it is — a terrorist state headed by a wanted war criminal,” said UCCLA’s chairman Roman Zakaluzny in a March 29 release.
More recently, an online petition calling upon the Government of Canada to designate the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism was initiated by Nadiya Frew from Regina, Saskatchewan and authorized by Michael Kram, MP for Regina—Wascana. It states:
“• The federal government of Canada has recognized the Russian Federation as a foreign state supporting terrorism; and
“ •The federal government of Canada has issued sanctions against the Russian Federation and various Russian Federation officials, yet it continues to extend state immunity to the Russian Federation, thereby preventing Canadian nationals and residents from seeking remedies against the Russian Federation in Canadian courts.
“We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to issue an order adding the Russian Federation to the list of foreign states that support terrorism, pursuant to S.6.(1) and (2) of the State Immunity Act R.S.C., 1985, c.S-1”
It has also received support from the Russian Embassy Protesters (REP) in Ottawa, a group of Ottawa supporters of Ukraine who bear witness to Russia’s crimes with daily vigils at the embassy.
“Russia has committed horrific crimes since its illegal invasion of Ukraine. The murder of thousands of civilians, abduction and removal of children, torture of war prisoners, rape, widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure – heat, water, electricity, homes, hospitals, schools – are criminal acts in international law. Your signature will help ensure that Russia’s terror is subject to legal process.
“If you are a citizen or resident of Canada, please sign the petition and share this email with your contacts. It is one of a few ways we can counter Russia’s global terrorism and support Ukraine’s heroic stand for its sovereignty,” they stated.
So, what does designating Russia as a terrorist state entail, aside from the obvious symbolic gesture? Countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism or terrorist states would have stricter sanctions imposed on them by the West and other nations. Inclusion on the list would also mean severe economic penalties for the countries that are its major trading partners, as well as restrictions on foreign aid and ban on defense exports. Countries on the list have a much more difficult time doing business with the outside world, keeping their funds in foreign banks, and travelling.
What’s more it makes it much easier to seize Russian assets abroad and allow victims to sue perpetrators of war crimes. On March 23 of last year the Government of Ukraine, the World Bank Group, the European Commission, and the United Nations released a joint assessment that estimated the cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine at US$411 billion just for the first year Russia’s full scale invasion which began on February 24, 2022. That amount could easily have doubled by now. In fact, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy estimates the cost of reconstruction at over $1 trillion. There are about US$300 billion in Russian foreign reserves that have been frozen in the West. Much more could and should be found.
That is why it is so imperative for Russia to be designated as a terrorist state and why Canada should do its utmost to provide an example. This petition will be closed on February 14 and subsequently presented to the House of Commons. In order to have maximum effect, it is necessary to get as many signatures as possible. We therefore urge our readers to go to
sign this petition and spread this link for others to come on board.