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11 Aug, 2022 11:14

Latvia brands Russia ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

The EU member-state’s parliament says the move is a response to Moscow’s “violence” in Ukraine
Latvia brands Russia ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

Latvia’s parliament, the Saeima, designated Russia a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ on Thursday, over the conflict in Ukraine.

MPs in the Baltic nation are “recognizing Russia’s violence against civilians [in Ukraine] as terrorism and Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism,” the parliament announced on its website.

The Saeima has also called upon “other like-minded countries to express the same view,” while also urging the EU “to immediately suspend the issuance of tourist and entry visas to Russian and Belarusian citizens.”

Rihards Kols, who chairs the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, claimed that “Russia has for many years supported and financed terrorist regimes and organizations in various ways – directly and indirectly.”

As examples of such actions by Moscow, he mentioned Russia’s military assistance to the Syrian government and the alleged downing of the MH-17 flight over eastern Ukraine in 2014, as well as the poisoning of double-agent Sergei Skripal (whose daughter was also poisoned) in the UK in 2018.

Western governments, which have been blaming Russia for the two latter incidents, were never able to present any convincing proof of Moscow’s alleged involvement in them. Russian officials have been insisting that the country had nothing to do with the Skripal and MH17 affairs, while decrying the accusations as politically motivated.

In September 2015, Russia intervened in Syria at the invitation of the government in Damascus, when almost 70% of the country was in the hands of Islamic State terrorists or other militants often described by Western media as “moderate rebels.”

From the start of its military operation in Ukraine, Moscow has been insisting that its forces aren’t attacking civilian infrastructure, but only target Ukrainian troops and military infrastructure.

In late July, the US Senate unanimously approved a non-binding resolution calling upon the country’s top diplomat Antony Blinken to designate Russia a sponsor of terrorism. The State Department has so far been reluctant to fulfil the demand of the lawmakers, arguing that the sweeping sanctions that had been imposed on Moscow over the conflict with Kiev were enough already.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.