European Parliament declares Russia state sponsor of terrorism

European Parliament declares Russia state sponsor of terrorism
European Parliament plenary session. Credit: Belga

The European Parliament approved a text on Wednesday declaring Russia as a state-sponsor of terrorism, a symbolic yet firm condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine. This comes just days after a similar resolution passed in the NATO parliamentary assembly.

The resolution was the merger of three separate proposals from the European People’s Party (EPP), Renew Europe, and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR).

A vast majority (494 out of 596 MEPs present) voted in favour of the resolution from across the political factions. With the exception of The Left (the EU’s far-left group) and ID (far-right group), most members of the European political groups supported the resolution.

Stoking division?

A total of 44 MEPs abstained from the vote. Some expressed legal concerns about the resolution. Despite instruction from the European Greens to vote in favour of the resolution, Belgian Ecolo MEP Saskia Bricmont, along with party co-president Phillipe Lamberts, abstained.

“I have reservations on a legal level, as a European co-legislator we risk opening a divide. There is no common definition of terrorism and the crimes of aggression and war crimes attributed to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are in themselves already defined in international law and therefore allow a condemnation on solid grounds."

Fellow Belgian MEP from the CD&V party, Tom Vandenkendelaere, voted with his group in favour of the resolution. He described the resolution as a “very clear political signal” in response to Russia's attacks against civilians.

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The text equally asks the EU to enact a “new European legal instrument” which defines state-sponsored terrorism at the European level.

The European Parliament has also passed a resolution to support the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia in Ukraine, and the creation of a special tribunal to trial suspects. It also calls on the European Council to include Russian paramilitary group Wagner on a list of designated European terror groups.

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