The European Parliament on Wednesday declared Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism” over the “brutal and inhumane” acts inflicted upon Ukraine and its citizens since the launch of the invasion.
Although the move is a non-binding resolution, it is highly symbolic. The strongly-worded resolution was overwhelmingly approved with 494 votes in favour, 58 against and 44 abstentions, during the monthly plenary session in Strasbourg.
In his immediate reaction, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the decision to recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe, he added.
“The deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amount to acts of terror against the Ukrainian population and constitute war crimes,” the resolution read.
“In the light of the above, (the European Parliament) recognises Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state which uses means of terrorism.”
The text merged three different resolutions filed by the European People’s Party, Renew Europe and the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR).
In the final version, MEPs denounce Russia’s “illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression” against Ukraine and accuse the Russian army of committing a long list of crimes, such as attacks on essential infrastructure, the murder of “thousands” of civilians and “hundreds” of children, summary executions, abductions, rape, harassment, torture, mass detentions and forced deportations.
“These brutal and inhumane acts are causing death, suffering, destruction and displacement,” MEPs said, noting the almost 40,000 war crimes that have so far been documented in Ukraine.
The lawmakers also condemned Russia for provoking a “large-scale” humanitarian crisis and “weaponising” food and hunger, with global implications.
As a result of all these “atrocities,” the European Parliament called on the EU member states to develop a brand-new legal framework that can enable the designation of an entire country as a sponsor of terrorism.
The EU’s current terror list, which was set up in the aftermath of 9/11 and is reviewed every six months, only allows the bloc to blacklist specific individuals and organisations.
So far, only 13 persons and 21 entities have been added, such as Hamas, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’ (PKK), Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) and the military wing of Hezbollah.
As a foreign policy tool, any change to the list would require the unanimity of all 27 EU countries.
Besides this legal tweak, the European Parliament also demanded a “comprehensive international isolation” of Russia and a further reduction of diplomatic relations.
“Contacts with its official representatives at all levels (should) be kept to the absolute minimum necessary,” lawmakers said.
The resolution comes days after Russia launched a new barrage of attacks against Ukraine’s key infrastructure, raising fears of a massive exodus of people ahead of the winter season.