The EU should designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has said, after a bombing that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war on Friday renewed calls to further isolate Moscow on the international scene.
“We see all the brutality of the Russian forces, which actually look like a lot of ISIS, which we have always called a terrorist organization,” Rinkēvičs told POLITICO in a phone interview on Sunday. “Let’s call a spade a spade,” he said.
The Ukrainian army has accused Russia of deliberately bombing a prison containing Ukrainian prisoners of war in the eastern region of Donetsk, while the Russian Defense Ministry has accused Ukraine of hitting the prison. On Sunday, Russia said it had officially invited the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to investigate.
Rinkēvičs said Europe should redouble its efforts to isolate Russia.
“The only way forward is to reinforce the current strategy, which is to support Ukraine, to send more military aid,” he said.
The minister also called for the confiscation of Russian government assets and for EU countries to restrict the issuance of visas for Russians, with an exemption for humanitarian reasons.
“Society needs to feel it” Rinkēvičs said, saying the majority of Russians support Kremlin policy. “If we condemn countries like Iran,” Rinkēvičs said, “Russia is no different.”
The Ukrainian government has asked its Western partners to designate Russia as a “terrorist state”.
“Our state has received many signals from different countries condemning the Russian terrorist act in Olenivka,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message released on Saturday evening.
Zelenskyy, who urges civilians to leave the Donbass region, said “the world sees the truth” and “there must be legal action by the global community against the terrorist state”.
“Formal legal recognition of Russia as a terrorist state, in particular recognition by the US State Department,” he said, “is needed not as a political gesture but as an effective defense of the free world”.
The comments of Rinkēvičs comes after Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said on Saturday it was halting deliveries to Latvia over an alleged breach of contract terms. “Today Gazprom stopped the gas supply to Latvia under the July order due to breach of… conditions,” the company said in a Telegram post, without providing further details.