The EU Parliament Says The Quiet Part Out Loud
On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, in response to its continued attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructures with no military purpose or value.
The European Parliament on Wednesday decided to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, arguing Moscow's military strikes on civilian targets such as energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools and shelters violate international law.
As I have detailed previously, Russia’s missile attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructures stands in clear violation of Article 54 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, as of 8 June 1977.
2. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to
move away, or for any other motive.
That Ukraine is evacuating civilians from the hardest hit cities, including the newly recaptured city of Kherson, due to destroyed energy infrastructures, makes a compelling case that the Ukrainian energy grid constitutes “objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.”
As the scope of damage to Ukraine’s energy systems has come into focus in recent days, Ukrainian and Western officials have begun sounding the alarm but are also realizing they have limited recourse. Ukraine’s Soviet-era power system cannot be fixed quickly or easily. In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries.
“Put simply, this winter will be about survival,” Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director for the World Health Organization, told reporters on Monday in Kyiv, saying the next months could be “life-threatening for millions of Ukrainians.”
The case against Russia is strengthened by reports that a Russian missile targeted a maternity hospital in Vilniansk, a city just east of Zaporizhzhia and well back from the front lines in that region—and thus unarguably not a permissible military target—resulting in the death of a newborn among others.
The state emergency service said that at the time of the attack a woman with a newborn baby and a doctor had been in a maternity ward in a two-storey building that was destroyed.
The doctor and the mother were rescued but the baby died, it said on the Telegram messaging app under photos of rescue workers sifting through the rubble, with white smoke rising into the night sky.
That Russia is targeting Ukrainian civilian infrastructures is at this point indisputable. Putin appears willing to tear up the Geneva Conventions, which limit the actions nations at war may take against the civilian population of the other side.
While the vote by the EU Parliament is largely symbolic, it does constitute a formal statement by the European Union that Russia’s missile attacks are a terroristic action, not a military one.
Which means the consequences of these attacks will extend far beyond this winter or even this war.
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