The European Parliament is demanding new steps. After declaring Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" Wednesday, MEPs want to acknowledge, more congruently, the atrocities Russia has committed in Ukraine.
During the monthly plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the symbolic resolution – with 494 voting for the motion.
The result could clear the way for MEPs to hold Moscow and Russian president Vladimir Putin accountable for alleged war crimes during their invasion of Ukraine.
"What we voted today, Russia is a terrorist state, means an example to all dictators like Putin. Think twice whenever you want to do something like this, because there are other dictators in the world other than Putin thinking about doing something like this,” Vlad Gheorghe Romanian MEP with Renew Europe told The Global Conversation.
Interview in full
Sándor Zsiros, Euronews: Vlad Gheorghe. What does it mean for the future that the European Parliament now calls Russia a state sponsor of terrorism? Does that bring the end of the conflict any closer?
Vlad Gheorghe, Romanian MEP, Renew Europe: First of all, we recognise what everyone knows. What do you call a state that attacks citizens that is guilty of over 40,000 documented war crimes and a state that tries to kill civilians by freezing them to death or starving them. This is what we said now in the European Parliament that we see this and we acknowledge politically this.
SZ: Mr. Lagodinsky, do you think that Russia will be ever added to the EU's official terrorist list?
**Sergey Lagodinsky, German MEP, Greens/EFA:**I think we're not there yet. I see this resolution mostly as a political statement and an important sign of solidarity and also of acknowledgement that the conduct of Russia, number one, and this is how the resolution takes it: number one, Russia employs terrorist behaviour. And number two, Russia employs terrorists unit. If we talk about the Wagner Brigade, for example, or if we talk about some units of the Chechen so-called Chechen army, I would say that their behaviour is terrorist and Russia is a sponsor of those. So from that perspective, we are on the safe side, but we do not have a legal instrumentarium to deal with this in the European Union or on the international stage, except for the United States. So one of the calls in this resolution is to try to develop something like this until we have a solid legal ground. This will be quite difficult to actually derive conclusions from what we're doing in the legal realm.
SZ: And the resolution also calls for the frozen Russian assets to be transferred to help Ukraine. How would that work in reality?
VG: Every decision that we take, it needs to be based in law, and we are now writing that legislation in order for us to be able to get the Russian assets first for rebuilding Ukraine, because we need to start rebuilding Ukraine before the war ends because the people there need it. And second, to reimburse what our budgets have supported so far.
SZ: This is actually a very interesting point that you said that we need to respect rule of law, because one of the pillars of the Western civilisation is respect for private property or respect for state property. Is it a violation of this pillar?
SL: We both are rapporteurs on confiscation of assets, private assets from oligarchs or mafia people in the European Union that we will be discussing and negotiating in the Parliament. For that, you need someone who have committed a crime. You need someone where there is a link between him and the assets, etc., etc. So we are trying to find a rule of law-based way to this goal. Regarding the state assets there is a long way to go there. There is a so-called immunity of state assets which is recognised by international law, but there can be of course exceptions and we should start talking to the international community on whether such an exception we have here.
**VG:**And the long term goal is of course to find legal ways, as Sergei put it before me, to find legal ways of getting the Russian assets where they need to be to be put actually into rebuilding Ukraine. Because one last thing, because we have €40 billion in private assets and around 400 billion in state assets. So it's a pretty big difference.
SZ: Now, the European Parliament also calls for a new round of sanctions against Russia. What should be included? And do you think it's time to have them now?
VG: Yes, I think it's time to have them now. I think it's a it's a perfect example to all the dictators, exactly like what we did today, because what we voted today, Russia is a terrorist state, means an example to all dictators like Putin: Think twice whenever you want to do something like this, because there are other dictators in the world other than Putin thinking about doing something like this. And yes, we need to to have more sanctions. And, yes, we need to think about a price cap for Russian oil and Russian gas, which are very important as complementary sanctions. But also very important for the life of Europeans now, because Putin is playing a war of energy prices and we need to react on that.
SZ: How should the European Union keep support for its current policies towards Ukraine?
SL: I think it's of course, a matter of helping between member states. We will be not able to sustain this winter and to give much-needed social and financial help to the citizens if member states do not help each other. And that's why I do think that we will not be able to avoid getting more mutual debt as the European Union in order to have a solidarity fund that would help member states. We are not nation-states. We do not give welfare directly to citizens. But I think supporting citizens in terms of social support and economic support to enterprises should be a priority this winter. This is important, but to be honest, our burdens, as much as I understand our burdens, are not comparable to the burdens of Ukrainians who are being also killed, tortured and raped right now. So I think we should also see that we still have the privilege of living in peace as opposed to our neighbours who are being attacked.
SZ: Vlad Gheorghe, the same question goes to you.
VG: I'm going to continue Sergei's answer. Peace is priceless. You simply cannot put a price on peace. This is unbelievably needed for all the people. We are Europeans. We have it. Now we understand how to appreciate that more because we have a war at our borders. So, yeah, of course, we need to do more for our citizens, for our European citizens. And I am very, very sure that our citizens will continue to be 100% in solidarity with the Ukrainians as they showed. So remember, the European citizens were the first to react to the war, not the European states. And lastly, we as a union, we are as strong as the link between our states. So this is our strength, our solidarity and our unity. If we lose that, we lose everything to Putin.
SZ: Thanks very much to both of you for the interview.
SL: Thank you.
**VG:**Thank you very much.