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European Parliament Recognises russia as Sponsor of Terrorism

On 23 November 2022, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognising the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism and a state that uses terrorist methods, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

After the Russian incursion, Ukrainian diplomats – citing indiscriminate military assaults against Ukraine and its people, the violation of Russia's international obligations and the material damages inflicted on Ukraine – have repeated urged the international community to recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

According to the EU resolution, Russia is solely responsible for deliberate attacks on Ukraine’s civilian population and infrastructure, and its breaches of human rights and humanitarian law amount to acts of terror against the Ukrainian people and war crimes.

Recognising an aggressor state as a state sponsor of terrorism is a novel act for the EU. Unlike the US, the EU does not currently have a legal framework in place to designate a third country as a state sponsor of terrorism. Accordingly, the resolution does not have any immediate legal effects for the public but puts pressure on the EU and its members to consider developing a comprehensive framework for the designation, application, and enforcement of this instrument. Furthermore, the European Parliament has called for the European Council and member states to implement specific restrictions and sanctions against Russia and its supporters, including:

  • initiating the comprehensive international isolation of Russia, including regarding Russia’s membership in international organisations and bodies;
  • reducing further contacts with official representatives of Russia at all levels;
  • closing and banning Russian state-affiliated institutions, which operate under the auspices and leadership of Russian diplomatic missions and promote Russian state propaganda;
  • placing Russia and Belarus on the EU’s high-risk third country list on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing;
  • expanding the list of individuals targeted by the sanctions;
  • addressing loopholes in the implementation of sanctions and suspending the automatic exchange of tax information and double-tax agreements with both Russia and Belarus;
  • banning the direct or indirect import, purchase or transfer of diamonds, whether in raw or processed form, originating from the Russian Federation;
  • introducing an immediate and full embargo on EU imports of Russian fossil fuels and uranium and abandoning the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines;
  • prohibiting public denial of Russia’s military aggression and war crimes;
  • including the Wagner Group, as well as other Russian-funded armed groups and proxies in the occupied territories of Ukraine, on the EU terrorist list;
  • establishing a comprehensive international compensation mechanism, including an international register of damage, and actively cooperating with Ukrainian authorities on this matter;
  • completing the legal regime for the confiscation of Russian assets frozen by the EU and using these funds to address the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The resolution is playing a strategic role in guiding EU member states, but it is technically non-binding and the legal implications now depend on the European Council and the political will of each country.

To accelerate the process, on 1 December 2022, the Ukrainian Parliament urged foreign parliaments to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism and to intensify efforts to hold accountable those individuals who are responsible for crimes against Ukraine.

The resolution of the European Parliament demonstrates that the EU remains committed to holding Russia responsible for its war on Ukraine and that the EU’s ninth sanctions package should not be expected to be the last word in the EU’s robust legal response against Russia.

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