The European Parliament voted to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, accusing the country of “serious violations of international and humanitarian law” in its invasion of Ukraine.
The designation is largely symbolic because the European Union has no legal framework to act.
European lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the motion Wednesday, with 494 members voting in favor, 58 against, and 44 abstaining.
“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,” said a statement released by the Parliament.
The E.U. has placed historically restrictive sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine began, including banning oil imports and ceasing the purchase of Russian coal. The U.S. has also placed extensive sanctions on Russia but has remained diligent in its avoidance of branding the country as a sponsor of terrorism.
In September, President Biden decided the U.S. would not label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, claiming the designation would only harm humanitarian efforts and sour possible peace negotiations.
“This designation could have unintended consequences to Ukraine and the world,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters in a daily briefing.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the parliament’s decision, urging the world to further isolate Russia to end its ongoing invasion.
The Parliament is urging member states to implement the “proper legal framework” to authorize the European Union to act on the designation.