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On November 23, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. 494 deputies out of 705 voted for the resolution, 58 deputies voted against. The European Parliament accused the Russian Federation of destroying civilian infrastructure, serious violations of international and humanitarian law and noted that such actions are equated with acts of terrorism and are war crimes. The deputies also called on the Council of the EU to include in the list of terrorist organizations PMC Wagnerthe 141st Special Motorized Regiment named after Akhmat Kadyrov and “other Russian-backed armed groups.”
How important are the resolutions of the European Parliament?
A resolution is a document in which the European Parliament expresses its attitude to any issue, the topic of the resolution can be anything. At the same time, the decisions of the resolution are not binding on the EU countries. Researchers called Parliamentary resolutions are an instrument of “soft law”, i.e. rules that are not legally binding but can lead to practical consequences.
For example, in June the European Parliament accepted resolution “Violations of media freedom and safety of journalists in Georgia”. This document did not lead to direct legal consequences, but with its help the deputies showthat Georgia still does not meet the criteria for EU accession – and describe the conditions that the country must comply with.
About the system of power in the EU
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Will something change for Russia?
The EU legislation does not contain the term “state sponsor of terrorism”, so the decision of the European Parliament itself will not have legal consequences for Russia. However, the deputies call on the EU countries to develop a legal framework “to designate states as sponsors of terrorism and states that use terrorist means.” In relation to such states, among which it is proposed to include Russia, they are going to introduce “significant restrictive measures”, and this will also lead to “serious restrictive consequences” for the EU’s relations with these countries. What these measures and consequences are, the resolution does not specify.
The UK Parliament also discusses recognition of the Russian Federation as a “terrorist state”. Foreign Minister James Cleverly, in response to a question from one of the MPs, said that there were “reasons” for such a decision, but he did not want to “publicly speculate about future definitions.”
On October 13, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also adopted a resolution calling on all member states of the organization to recognize Russia as a “terrorist regime.” Specialist in international law Gleb Bogush in an interview with the publication The Insider called this decision a “political gesture” that would not lead to any legal consequences.
Even earlier, the parliaments of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic, in one form or another, declared Russia a state that supports terrorism. These statements also did not lead to significant consequences. For example, in statement Latvian Seimas deputies urged EU countries suspend the issuance of tourist visas to citizens of Russia and Belarus and expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
How can an entire country be labeled a terrorist? We talked about this in the Signal mailing list.
- PACE has declared Russia a “terrorist regime”, but the US does not want to. How can a whole country be a terrorist? Release of the Signal mailing list on Meduza
When will something really change?
When a similar decision is made by the United States, which is also discussing the recognition of Russia as a sponsor of terrorism.
This may lead to the freezing of the assets of the Russian Federation, additional sanctions, visa restrictions, and most importantly, the loss of immunity. This means that American courts will be able to consider the claims of people against another sovereign state (and satisfy them at the expense of the arrested Russian assets). USA consider countries – sponsors of terrorism Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria.
Several bills have already been submitted to the US Parliament, in which congressmen demanded that the State Department consider including Russia on the list of sponsors of terrorism. But none of them has received the status of law. Experts believe that after such a decision is made, the United States will lose flexibility in its sanctions policy: if the Russian Federation is declared a country sponsoring terrorism, then the sanctions will operate as a “package” and they cannot be lifted separately without removing it from the list. In addition, this decision could lead to an additional escalation of the conflict, as experts at the analytical firm RAND warn (.pdf).
Meduza wrote in detail about this scenario.
- Russia is closer than ever to being declared a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States. What does it threaten?