European lawmakers have overwhelmingly backed a resolution calling Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" over its nine-month invasion of Ukraine.
After a marathon debate on Wednesday, 494 out of 596 voting lawmakers of the European Parliament supported the document at a European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg. A total of 58 legislators voted against it, and 44 abstained.
In the resolution, the 27-nation EU reiterated unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders and condemnation of Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine.
“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 as quoted by Euronews.
“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 reported in Ukraine.
As the EU is currently unable to officially designate states as sponsors of terrorism, the European Parliament called on the EU and its member states to develop an EU legal framework for the designation of states as sponsors of terrorism, as well as states that use means of terrorism to achieve political goals.
The move will likely trigger a number of significant restrictive measures against Moscow and worsen already strained relations between the EU and Russia.
Kyiv has long been calling on EU member states to declare Russia a “terrorist state” over its invasion of the country.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the decision of European lawmakers, adding that “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”.
News of the resolution comes days after Russia launched a new wave of missile attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, raising fears of a massive exodus of people ahead of the winter season.
Major blackouts were reported in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, and the surrounding region as well as in Kharkiv and Chernihiv in the north, Odesa in the south and Lviv, a city near the Polish border.
Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine has sparked global outrage, claimed that the assault launched on February 24 aimed to protect the people of the separatist-controlled regions who were allegedly being attacked by the Ukrainian military. The Kremlin explained that the decision was made after separatist leaders of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics had asked Moscow for military support against Kyiv.
In response to Russia’s move, Western countries have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow and started supplying weapons to Ukraine.
Russian authorities have repeatedly criticized western nations for their military assistance to Ukraine, arguing that the aid is not only fueling the conflict but also boosting the risk of direct confrontation between Russia and NATO powers.