The European Parliament accuses the Kremlin's forces of carrying out atrocities in its military campaign in Ukraine but the 27-nation bloc's action is merely symbolic without legal sanctity.

Kiev has been calling on the international community to declare Russia a
Kiev has been calling on the international community to declare Russia a "terrorist state" over its military operation against the country. (Reuters)

The European Parliament has recognised Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism", accusing Moscow's forces of carrying out atrocities during its military action against Ukraine.

The move by the European legislators on Wednesday is a symbolic political step with no legal consequences, but MEPs urged the governments of the 27-nation EU to follow their lead.

"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," a resolution approved by EU lawmakers said.

The parliament said it "recognises Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state which uses means of terrorism".

Kiev has been calling on the international community to declare Russia a "terrorist state" over its military operation against the country, and the Strasbourg parliament's decision will likely anger Moscow.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the vote.

"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," he said in a social media post.

The European Union — unlike the United States — does not have a legal framework to designate countries as a "state sponsor of terrorism".

Washington has so far steered clear of putting Russia on its list, a move that triggers more sanctions and would remove the state immunity of Moscow's officials.

The resolution, backed by 494 MEPs and opposed by 58, calls on Brussels to put in place the "legal framework" to take the move and consider adding Russia.

Lawmakers in several eastern EU countries have already voted to condemn Russian "terrorism".

EU sanctions

The EU has imposed eight rounds of unprecedented sanctions targeting Russia's key oil exports and top officials since President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to attack Ukraine in February.

European diplomats say work is underway on preparing a new package of sanctions after Moscow unleashed a ferocious missile and drone blitz against Ukraine's energy infrastructure following losses on the battlefield.

The European Parliament resolution also urged the EU to include the Wagner mercenary group and troops loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on the bloc's sanctions list of "terrorist" organisations.

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Source: AFP