MEPs formally declare Russia 'state sponsor of terrorism'

The European Parliament on Wednesday (23 November) designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

MEPs, with 494 voting ‘yes’, 58 ‘no’ votes and 44 abstentions, argued that Moscow’s military strikes on civilian targets such as energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and shelters violated international law.

The move is symbolic as the EU does not have the legal framework to make such a designation officially, it is up to member states.

In the EU, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland have already designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism by their national parliaments.

“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,” the resolution said.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the vote.

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“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 said in a tweet.

MEPs hope the informal EU designation pushes national governments to add Russia to their own lists, triggering further restrictive measures. MEPs also called for the bloc itself to develop a legal framework to be able to designate countries as state sponsors of terrorism.

Polish MEP Anna Fotyga from the rightwing European Conservatives and Reformist group, which has initiated the resolution, said: “the past and the present have shown that Russia is a terrorist state”.

“We say it clearly in this resolution. It should also have consequences. The terrorist state of Russia should be defeated. We cannot negotiate with terrorists or make business with them. Russia should be isolated internationally, including exclusion from the United Nations Security Council,” she added.

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In the resolution, lawmakers call for further isolation of Russia internationally, and want Russian diplomatic ties to be reduced to the minimum.

Centre-right MEP from Lithuania Andrius Kubilius, previously prime minister of the Baltic country, argued that the vote sends a “clear political signal”.

“Now it’s up to the EU and the member states to draw adequate consequences, including by starting a comprehensive international isolation of Russia,” he said.

“We have called a spade a spade. All the atrocities that the Russian regime is committing and has committed over the years in Ukraine, in Chechnya, in Syria and against its opponents in Europe and at home do not leave any doubt,” Kubilius added.

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Wagner Group

MEPs also called on member states to include the Russian paramilitary organisation, the Wagner Group, the 141st Special Motorised Regiment, known as the “Kadyrovites”, and other Russian-funded armed groups on the EU’s terrorist list.

MEPs also want EU countries to prevent, investigate and prosecute any circumvention of current sanctions, and called for the ninth sanctions package against Russia to be quickly adopted.

The US has so far not listed Russia as a terrorist state even though both chambers of the US Congress urged secretary of state Anthony Blinken to do so.

The US currently names North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism, which means they are subject to defence export bans, a ban on aid, and further financial restrictions.

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