Lithuanian lawmakers brand Russian actions in Ukraine as 'genocide', 'terrorism'

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania's parliament voted unanimously on Tuesday to describe Russia's actions in Ukraine as "genocide" and "terrorism" and to call for a international tribunal, modelled on the Nuremberg Trials after World War Two, to prosecute suspected war crimes.

The motion, co-sponsored by Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, said Russian forces' war crimes in Ukraine included the deliberate killing of civilians, mass rape, forcible relocation of Ukrainian citizens to Russia and the destruction of economic infrastructure and cultural sites.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and calls its invasion, launched on Feb. 24, a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine and the West say this is a false pretext for waging an unprovoked war of aggression.

"The Russian Federation, whose military forces deliberately and systematically select civilian targets for bombing, is a state that supports and perpetrates terrorism," the Lithuanian parliamentary motion said.

Lithuania's move follows a similar unanimous vote by Canadian lawmakers on April 27 to call Russia's attacks in Ukraine a "genocide".

Leonid Slutsky, head of the International Affairs Committee of Russia's lower house of parliament, said the resolution was not legally binding and that it merely repeated what he called the United States' Russophobic views.

He said the resolution was part of an "anti-Russia project" and biased actions against Russia that "have nothing to do with reality," the TASS news agency cited him as saying.

Lithuania, which was once ruled from Moscow but is now part of the European Union and NATO, has been among the most outspoken critics of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Vilnius expelled the Russian ambassador last month after Ukraine accused Russian forces of killing civilians in the town of Bucha, near the capital Kyiv.

U.S. President Joe Biden said in April he believed the invasion of Ukraine amounted to genocide, adding: "We'll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me."

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Gareth Jones and Raissa Kasolowsky)