Russia's military units should be branded as terrorist organisations, says Jamie Stone
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North MP Jamie Stone is calling for Russia's military units and mercenaries to be branded as terrorist organisations.
Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrats' spokesperson for defence, urged the Ministry of Defence to take the action in response to atrocities being committed in Ukraine.
His party is proposing the use of proscription orders as part of a new package of measures. These include Russian diplomats based in Britain being expelled and the UK leading calls at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for an arrest warrant to be issued for Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.
"We have all seen the appalling atrocities that have been uncovered in Bucha," said Mr Stone, the MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. "Only recently, 60 people were killed in a school in Luhansk following Russian shelling.
"Is it not time for the Russian military units and mercenary groups, including the Wagner group [a paramilitary organisation] with their sinister death’s head, to be proscribed as terrorist organisations?
"We cannot offer empty words while Putin and his soldiers continue to butcher innocent Ukrainian civilians.
“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”.
Members of the Wagner group were reportedly sent into Ukraine in an attempt to assassinate the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky. They are also believed to have been active in other countries around the world.
In a separate move, Mr Stone has highlighted the hundreds of Ukrainian refugees who are stuck in hotels up to a month after arriving in Scotland. He says many have found themselves victims of government bureaucracy.
In a question to home secretary Priti Patel, Mr Stone urged the UK government to talk with the Scottish Government with the view to sorting out the backlog of refugee cases.
"Even in the village of Golspie, in my constituency, seven families from Ukraine are soon to be welcomed," Mr Stone said. "The Highlands has a long history of welcoming refugees from all corners of the world, and the fallout from the crisis in Ukraine will not change that.
"The problem is not the lack of will to support these families but the serious blockage, bottlenecks and red tape along the way. The Scottish Government’s Super Sponsor scheme is laudable in intent, but in practice it is leaving Ukrainians stranded in hotels.
"Every second wasted with government incompetence is another second a civilian family has to remain waiting in limbo. It is time for both governments to put their heads together to expedite these cases as a matter of urgency."