NATO’s Reign of Terror: Yugoslavia to Russia
by Christopher Black on 17 Apr 2024 0 Comment

I write this just after returning from Belgrade and the important international conference held there commemorating the 1999 War of Terror conducted by NATO forces against the people of the remaining republics of Yugoslavia, primarily Serbia, a conference organised by the Beograd Forum for A World of Equals and related organisations.


In the West, the NATO attack is referred to as the “Kosovo” war, since they want the memory of Yugoslavia and what it represented to the world to disappear forever. But it will not. We all know what happened there. I choose the phrase War of Terror for the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia because in fact, that is what it became after the NATO forces failed to defeat the Yugoslav armed forces and, as a consequence, resorted to the use of a strategy of mass terrorism to force the people of Yugoslavia to submit to NATO’s will.


The crimes committed by the NATO countries are well documented and include attacks on civilian infrastructure, on civilian trains, hospitals, media centres, energy infrastructure, industry, water supplies, bridges, administration centres and, finally, to force a surrender, the threat to carpet bomb Belgrade with B-52s and to kill 500,000 Serbs in the process.


Of course, these tactics are not new to war. We only need to look back at the Second World War to remember the terror attacks on civilian cities by the US and British forces against German cities, like Dresden, or the American fire bombings of Tokyo and the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to know what they are capable of. We remember their total destruction of Korea, in which terrorising the civilian population was a key strategy used by the Americans and its allies.


We remember the atrocities committed against civilians in Vietnam, the shock and awe of their attack on Iraq in 2003, their brutal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, of Libya, the use of US controlled terror groups like Al-Qaeda*, then ISIS* in Syria and Iraq, the use of terror against the populations of El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 80s, the same methods employed against the Rwandan government in 1990-1994, and in Congo ever since. Likewise, we see it in Gaza as Israel, with the direct participation of the USA, UK, Canada, France, and Germany and other NATO countries, inflicts mass collective punishment on the Palestinian people amounting to genocide against them.


We saw terror used to overthrow the legitimate government of Ukraine in 2014, and the following attacks on civilians in eastern Ukraine who refused to accept the NATO-backed coup d’état, attacks which continue to this day. And now we see them using terror in the attacks against Russia in Belgorod and Moscow. Can we be surprised that the Russian investigation of the Crocus massacre of young people, on March 22, strongly indicates that it was committed by the same actors responsible for all the previous terror attacks?


Commentators in the West have referred to these terror attacks as hybrid or asymmetrical warfare, as if these phrases justify or legitimise them. They do not. They are war crimes for which those responsible must be held accountable and will be held accountable. Serge Lavrov’s visit to China to meet with his counterpart Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China, this week [April 9-ed] to discuss terrorism among other issues of cooperation indicates serious consequences will follow.


International law states these attacks are not only war crimes but can be considered genocide. The Rome Statute, for example, states


Article 6: Genocide


For the purpose of this Statute, “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;


The key phrase is “in whole or in part.”  On that definition, the Belgorod and Crocus attacks are acts of genocide. They are also crimes against humanity, as set out in Article 7 of the Statute,


Article 7: Crimes against humanity


For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:



Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to the body or to mental or physical health.


And they also constitute war crimes under Article 8,


Article 8: War crimes


For the purpose of this Statute, “war crimes” means (in part):

a) (i) Wilful killing;

(ii) Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;

(iii) Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health;

(iv) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;

(vi)Taking of hostages.


b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts,

(i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;

(ii) Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;


(v) Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives; and,

c) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

(i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;


Those responsible under international law for these crimes are not just the perpetrators but also those in command of them, all the way up the chain of command to the head of state of the forces or services involved. This principle of accountability for the highest levels of leadership was established by the Nuremberg Trials and has been accepted as a fundamental principle of international law since 1946. This principle was used by NATO in the show trials at the ICTY and ICTR, in the fabricated charges against President Milosevic, for instance. 


It is time it was used against the leaders of NATO, who were granted immunity from prosecution by the prosecutors of the Yugoslav and Rwanda tribunals and who are granted de facto immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, which refuses to prosecute any of the Western nations for their crimes and so encourages them and becomes itself a party to those crimes by its inaction.


So, what to do? Russia has several options. It can choose a military response, and a legal response. It will likely combine the two. But insofar as a legal response, we can refer to the statement of the Russian Investigative Committee on April 9 concerning the Crocus attack that,

“Investigators have established that the funds that were received through commercial organizations, such as the oil and gas company Burisma Holdings operating in Ukraine, have been used in recent years to carry out terrorist acts in Russia and abroad with the aim of taking out prominent political and public figures and causing economic damage.”


“The investigation, in cooperation with other special services and financial intelligence, is checking the sources and further movement of funds in the amount of several million US dollars, and the involvement of specific persons employed by government agencies, non-governmental and for-profit organizations in Western countries. In addition, through investigative and operational methods, links are being established between perpetrators of terrorist attacks and their foreign handlers, organizers and sponsors.”


Tass reported that, “Earlier, the Investigative Committee started assessing an appeal from lawmakers relating to the organization of terrorist attacks in Russia by the US and other Western countries. The agency said the investigation will thoroughly examine the submitted data. The Prosecutor General’s Office also noted that the agency will study the materials that were received from State Duma lawmakers that pertain to the organization and financing of some terrorist attacks in Russia, as well as the explosions at the Nord Stream-1 and Nord Stream-2 underwater gas pipelines by persons and organizations located in the US, Germany, France and Cyprus. The agency said the materials will be carefully studied, which will be followed by considerations about whether mechanisms of international legal cooperation should be engaged.”


It is unclear which mechanisms of legal cooperation they are referring to. It cannot be the International Criminal Court, which is not a legitimate world court in any case and which Russia does not recognise as legitimate and which refuses to act. It cannot be the creation of another UN ad hoc tribunal since the US and its allies will veto any such move in the Security Council and, in any case, the UN Charter does not allow for the legitimate creation of such tribunals under Chapter VII of the Charter.


Can we look back at the historical example of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals as examples of international cooperation in holding leaders of nations responsible for their crimes? In those cases, the Tribunals were created after the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan and the criminals were in the hands of the people they had committed crimes against, a situation unlikely to exist vis-à-vis the USA and its allies in any foreseeable future, unless a direct war breaks out, and they are somehow defeated, a war which will threaten us all. This is of course a possibility. But let us hope that another way can be found to bring those responsible before the people of the world and expose them for what they are.


Criminal prosecutions are being prepared in Russia under its Criminal Code. But to “engage mechanisms of international legal cooperation” must have a meaning, and it logically follows that the creation of an international tribunal is one way to achieve this objective. Perhaps the Russians have something else in mind. We know not.


However, the first task is to identify those responsible, to name them, to expose them, to produce the evidence of their crimes before the world. We can be sure that will be done, and very soon. The question then becomes how to punish those criminally responsible and to prevent them from committing further crimes.


Former President of Russia and Deputy Head of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, stated on April 6th that,

“It is obvious that Macron and some other Western leaders are the sponsors of this terrible terrorist attack. There is no forgiveness for this. There can be no immunity from this. And from now on, they are not just enemies of Russia.”


He is correct. Those responsible are not just the enemies of Russia. They are the enemies of mankind and are continuing to threaten to humanity.  Just what exactly the Russians are going to do we shall have to wait and see. But we can be sure of one thing; the consequences will be dramatic and inexorable.


Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. Courtesy

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