Recognising terrorism – Ukraine

January 27, 2015

For many months Ukraine has been muting to the international community that it formally recognise the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” as terrorist organisations.  Perhaps fair enough on the premise that there will be few nations that will recognise the legitimacy of either republic – ever – and thus the war they have engaged in against Ukraine, with significant Kremlin backing and involvement – may broadly fit most definitions of terrorism.

Without doubt, incidents such as the shooting down of MH17, and Saturday’s criminal incident in Mariupol, would certainly fit the definition of terrorism held by most reasonable people when all mass casualties and deaths were civilian.

Indeed the Ukrainian leadership’s calls for the international community to recognise these “republics” as terrorist organisations have steadily been increasing in frequency and volume in the most recent months.

However, as tweeted yesterday:

Indeed, for the Ukrainian leadership to expect any other nation, regional or global institution to designate these “republics” terrorist organisations, Ukraine must surely do so itself – first.  The integrity of such requests to the political world is severely undermined when Ukraine itself has not made the political and legal decision to make such a designation domestically.

Ukraine has to take on the political responsibility of leading such a charge.  It would be a ludicrous situation to have the “republics” designated terrorist organisations regionally and/or globally by various institutions, and yet Ukraine not have done so itself domestically.

There is also a similar argument that it need be Ukraine that cranks up the machinery at the UN to recognise the Kremlin as a party to the conflict – machinery that ultimately would effect the Kremlin position on the UNSC if successful.  Ukraine should not expect others to do this for it.

Already, at the commencement of the PACE winter session it is the UK, and not Ukraine, that tabled the motion to further suspend Kremlin voting rights for another year – a motion to be debated this week, despite what may be very ugly attempts at Kremlin blackmail PACE members if media reports are to be believed.  That the Kremlin now holds in prison a PACE delegate – Shavchenko – who now has international immunity after appointment, seems unlikely to encourage PACE members to accept Russia back amongst its ranks in return for releasing one of the organisations own delegates that should not be held.

In short, the Ukrainian political leadership has to start doing some of the heavy lifting within the international arena with regard to starting legal processes, that whilst others will certainly fall behind in support, ought to be started by Ukraine.


This message seems to have eventually begun to sink in – no doubt after blunt and repeated statements made by Ukraine’s allies behind the curtain.

Today, the RADA successfully managed to pass amendments to several Ukrainian laws detailing the mechanisms of just how terrorist organisations are to be deemed such within Ukraine.  The Justice Ministry Bill 1840 was passed by 270 votes.  The changes stipulate that the decision to recognise a terrorist organisation rests with the Superior Administrative Court of Ukraine, on the basis of an administrative claim of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, prosecutors of Crimea, regional prosecutors,  and cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol.   Also, the Board of the National Security and Defense Council  may  recognise an organisation as terrorist.

We shall now see whether or not Ukraine will designate “the republics” terrorist organisations, having today provided itself the mechanisms to do so.  Only having done so itself, can it reasonably expect others to seriously consider its international appeals to do the same.

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