By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The European Union Parliament on Wednesday, declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, citing the strikes on civilian targets by Moscow in Ukraine, a development that has affected energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools and shelters in violation of international law.
In a 494-58 vote with 48 abstentions, the EU legislature sought to increase pressure on Moscow to bring anyone responsible for war crimes committed from the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 before an international court.
The 27-nation EU has condemned in strong terms the invasion and repeatedly said several Russian actions over the past 10 months have amounted to war crimes.
The move is largely symbolic, as the European Union does not have a legal framework in place to back it up. At the same time, the bloc has already imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia over its invasion of kyiv. .
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the United States and other countries to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, accusing its forces of targeting civilians, which Moscow denies.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has so far refused to list Russia despite resolutions in both chambers of Congress urging him to do so.
The US State Department currently names four countries — Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria — as state sponsors of terrorism, meaning they are subject to a defence export ban and financial restrictions.
In the EU, the parliaments of four countries have so far designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, according to the European Parliamentary Research Service: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.
On the implications this could have on Russia, if the US also adds Russia to the list, M. Blazakis, professor of practice at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told Forbes, “It would likely expand the types of material that could not go to Russia. Dual-export restrictions are a key aspect of the SST regime.
“Second, and perhaps even more important, adding Russia to the State Sponsor of Terrorism regime would have implications for every government that continues to engage in any exchange, especially defence-related, with Russia. The SST listing would have secondary effects for countries engaged in such exchanges and they would become a target of secondary sections unless the President issued a waiver to exempt the activity.”