The EU should designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said, after an attack that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war on Friday renewed calls to further isolate Moscow in the international scene.
“We see all the brutality of the Russian forces, which actually look a lot like ISIS, which we have always called a terrorist organization,” Rinkēvičs told POLITICO in a phone interview on Sunday. “Let’s call things by their name,” he said.
Ukraine’s military accused Russia of deliberately bombing a jail containing Ukrainian prisoners of war in the eastern Donetsk region, while Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of attacking the prison. On Sunday, Russia said it had formally invited the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to investigate.
Rinkēvičs said that Europe should redouble efforts to isolate Russia.
“The only way forward is to strengthen 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, arguing that most Russians support the Kremlin’s policies. “If we condemn countries like Iran,” Rinkēvičs said, “Russia is no different.”
The Ukrainian government has called on its Western partners to designate Russia as a “terrorist state.”
“Our state received a lot of signals from different countries condemning the Russian terrorist act in Olenivka,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message posted Saturday night.
Zelenskyy, who is urging civilians to leave the Donbas area, said “the world sees the truth” and “there must be legal steps by the world 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 not necessary 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 would suspend deliveries to Latvia over an alleged breach of contract terms. “Today Gazprom stopped gas supplies to Latvia under the July order due to violation of… conditions,” the company said in a Telegram post, without providing further details.