Our plan seeks to establish what further steps could the British Government take without risking open conflict with the Russian state. Its authors Taras Kuzio and Alan Mendoza are, respectively, the former NATO director in Kiev and London’s longest serving foreign policy think tank head.
We propose four immediately achievable options for ending the violence in Ukraine:
1) Establish Clear Red Lines to Prevent Future Aberrant Russian Behaviour
Given recent developments in the conflict however, it is time that the West created some red lines of its own, in a bid to limit the ability of the Russians to put either mass public safety or further internationally agreed norms of behaviour at risk.
Two particular scenarios would form the basis of a credible Western ultimatum to Russia about future behaviour:
- A Nuclear Radiation Outbreak Occurring Owing to Russian Neglect or Attack: Russian security forces have occupied the decommissioned Chornobyl nuclear plant north of Kyiv, where an accident in 1986 spread radiation as far as northern England. There have been reports of power cuts at Chernobyl since the Russian takeover which might imperil the status of the still damaged reactor, and lead to further radiation leaking.
- Chemical Weapons Attack: The Kremlin supported Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons attacks against civilians. The OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) has reported that chemical weapons were used on seventeen occasions during Syria’s civil war.[i] Russian GRU officers conducted a chemical weapons attack in Salisbury, England in 2018 against Sergei Skripal, one of their former officers. Skripal survived the attack but an innocent British woman died after coming into contact with the chemical substance Novichok.
2) Creation of Safe Zones
The creation of some form of safe zone in Western Ukraine to assist Ukrainian civilians fleeing from Russia’s criminal invasion.
- The Russian army is using the tactics it honed in Grozny and Aleppo, bombing and shelling cities such as Kharkiv to destroy any resistance. The numbers of civilian casualties will be unacceptably high.
- The option of a whole-of-Ukraine No-Fly Zone has been dismissed by the West despite President Zelenskyy’s entreaties. Instead, HJS proposes a ‘safe zone’ in Western Ukraine, consisting of Galicia and Trans-Carpathia.
- No Russian plans leaked or published to date indicate an intent to occupy these regions. NATO could credibly and legitimately state that a humanitarian intervention could take place in these regions without interfering with Russian war plans.
- 8 million refugees are predicted to flee the war. Creating a safe zone would limit the numbers leaving the country. Given the heroic defence of Ukraine by its population, we at least owe its people the opportunity to remain on the soil that they are so willing to lay down their lives for.
- A Western Ukrainian safe zone would be the first sign of proactivity as opposed to reactivity on the ground and would represent a genuine challenge to Putin’s strategic thinking about his war as well as potential future outcomes.
With fighting advanced in the East and South of the country, the regions that would most obviously comprise this would be the 4 regions of Galicia (Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil) and Trans-Carpathia.
3) Initiate the prosecution proceedings against Russian leaders
Criminal prosecution of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Petrushev and other senior Kremlin leaders guilty of launching Russia’s illegal invasion of, and war against, Ukraine.
- Ukraine is a founding member of the UN and has been a UN member for nearly eight decades. By invading Ukraine, Russia has infringed international law and the UN Charter. The ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) and the ICC (International Criminal Court) have pointed to Russian military actions constituting war crimes.
- President Zelenskyy has described the intensive bombing of Kharkiv and other towns as a war crime and accused Russia of seeking to destroy Ukraine’s national identity.
- There is also an immediate way that war crimes can be investigated. Evidence of war crimes could be provided by the many Russian prisoners of war (POW) already in Ukrainian hands. These POWs could know of or might have themselves committed war crimes. The ICC could arrange for them to be taken to one of four EU member states bordering Ukraine and from there to The Netherlands. In return for giving testimony against Putin’s war crimes they could be offered asylum in the Western country of their choice.
4) Use the G7 to Declare Russia a Terrorist State
- Blacklisting Russia by designating it a terrorist state.
- Russia has invaded Ukraine and it is now undertaking a campaign to sow terror on its civilian population. This campaign involves the indiscriminate bombardment of Ukrainian cities with cruise missiles, use of unguided ordinance, and of illegal cluster bombs. It has launched a propaganda campaign to impart terror in the population of Ukraine, destroyed civilian infrastructure and launched cyberattacks aimed at critical infrastructure.
- “State sponsors of terrorism” are countries that “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” It is our view that Russia has crossed this bar. Inclusion on the list would lead to further severe US and Western sanctions against Russia. Current state sponsors of terrorism include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
- A suitable vehicle to utilise at this point could be the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), whose scope was expanded in 2001 to include efforts to counter terrorist financing. The FATF was founded in 1988 to improve global coordination to counter money laundering.
- FATF Blacklist status would remind the world – and the Russian leadership – that the world cannot consider Russia today a full member of the international community. Instead, it should be viewed as a current terrorist state with President Putin engaged in a campaign of terror against the Ukrainian people.
Commenting on the report’s launch, Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society said:
Leadership is about making bold and decisive steps, while minimising risks of conflict. These four clear steps, led by the creation of a Western Ukrainian safe zone, represent a measured and proportionate next step for the international community. They demonstrate that we continue to believe in a free Ukraine and are prepared to take actions that will fully match our rhetoric that “Putin must fail”.