RIGA - Labeling Russia a state supporting terrorism would currently mean broadening the conflict zone, thus escalating the tensions, Igors Pimenovs, an MP of the opposition Harmony party, said in an interview with Latvian Radio on Friday.
Asked to comment on Harmony's decision to abstain from a vote in the Saeima on a document labelling Russia a terrorism supporting state, Pimenovs said that the decision was based on several considerations, but that Harmony has already unequivocally denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Missile strikes targeting civilian facilities, atrocities committed against peaceful civilians are war crimes for which those who give orders, those who carry them out as well as those who justify these crimes must be held accountable. However, the sanctions the U.S. has already imposed on Russia exceed those applied to countries on the list [of terrorist supporting states], which includes four countries," Pimenovs said.
"To label Russia a state supporting terrorism because for the past eight years it has been supporting separatists in Ukraine would now mean broadening the conflict zone, thus escalating the tensions, which effectively would suit the invader's interests," the lawmaker explained.
Pimenovs added that there are also other reasons for Harmony's refusal to vote on the proposal. One of them is the fact that the National Alliance has come up with the proposal in the runup to Latvia's parliamentary elections, and Harmony feels that the party might be hoping to score some additional rating points with this initiative.
As reported, Harmony "condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine", but "due to several circumstances" it considers a statement labeling Russia a state supporting terrorism "provocative", therefore Harmony will not participate in Saeima's vote on the statement, the party informed LETA earlier.
As reported, Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee has endorsed an official statement labeling Russia's violence against civilians in Ukraine and other countries as terrorism and Russia as a state supporting terrorism.
Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rihards Kols (National Alliance) told LETA that the statement "On Russia's Targeted Military Attacks on Ukrainian Civilians and Public Buildings" urges other like-minded countries to also label Russia a state that supports terrorism.
Kols said at the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting today that the committee would ask Saeima to review the statement at its next meeting. MP Atis Lejins (New Unity) said that Saeima could convene for an extraordinary meeting on August 11.
The committee says in the statement that Russia is targeting Ukrainian civilian population, using suffering and intimidation as a tool in its attempts to demoralize the Ukrainian people and armed forces, paralyze the country's ability to act in order to occupy Ukraine and achieve its political goals.
In the statement, Saeima members categorically condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine with the support and involvement of the Belarusian regime, and call on the transatlantic community and its partners to urgently step up and implement comprehensive sanctions against Russia in order to put a halt to Russia's military aggression in Ukraine.
Saeima members call for increasing military, financial, humanitarian and diplomatic support for Ukraine and supporting initiatives that condemn Russia's military activities in Ukraine. They call for the perpetrators to be held accountable, demand that Russia be isolated from international and regional organizations, and that equivalent sanctions be imposed on Belarus as a supporter of Russia's military aggression.
The statement calls on the European Union member countries to immediately stop issuing tourist visas and limit issuing entry visas to citizens of Russia and Belarus.
MPs say in the statement that thousands of civilians and soldiers of Ukraine have died, and express solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation.
Since Russia's unprovoked military attack on Ukraine on February 24, 12 million Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes and more than 5 million have had to leave their country.
Since 2014, Russia has militarily, financially and politically supported violent separatism and violence against civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, as well as in the occupied Crimean peninsula, says the statement.
Another reason why Russia is a state supporting terrorism is Russia's support for and financing of terrorist regimes and organizations - Russia is the largest supplier of weapons to the Assad regime in Syria, it has also carried out terror attacks in sovereign countries, including the poisoning of the Skripal family in Great Britain and the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane MH-17, killing 298 people.
In the statement, MPs refer to Russian forces' consistent targeting of civilians in Ukraine, a series of reports by human rights groups and international monitoring missions about atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces against Ukrainian civilians, the Russian forces' attack on Olenivka prison in which more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war died, missile attack on Odesa Port on July 23, Russia's use of internationally-banned cluster munition to sow fear and kill civilians indiscriminately, and more.