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'Pro-Kremlin group’ launches cyber attack on EU Parliament website after Russia ‘terrorism’ vote

The move by the European legislators is a symbolic political step with no legal consequences.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 23rd 2022, 3:58 PM

THE EU PARLIAMENT website has been hit by a cyber attack in the aftermath of a vote recognising Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

The vote took place earlier today, with the EU Parliament accusing Russian forces of carrying out atrocities during its war on Ukraine.

The move by the European legislators is a symbolic political step with no legal consequences, but MEPs urged the governments of the 27-nation EU to follow their lead.

However, the European Parliament website is currently “under a sophisticated cyberattack” as a result. 

The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola said a “pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility”. 

She added that “IT experts are pushing back against it and protecting our systems”. 

Metsola also claimed that it comes after the EU Parliament “proclaimed Russia as a State-sponsor of terrorism”. 

Earlier, spokesperson Jaume Duch tweeted: “The availability of the EU Parliament website is currently impacted from outside due to high levels of external network traffic.

“This traffic is related to a DDOS attack (Distributed Denial of Service) event. EP teams are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a network by overwhelming it with a flood of Internet traffic.

It follows a vote in which the parliament said it “recognises Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state which uses means of terrorism”.

“The deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amount to acts of terror,” a resolution approved by EU lawmakers said.

Kyiv has been calling on the international community to declare Russia a “terrorist state” over its invasion of the country, and the Strasbourg parliament’s decision will likely anger Moscow.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the vote.

“Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe,” he said in a social media post.

The European Union – unlike the United States – does not have a legal framework to designate countries as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

Washington has so far steered clear of putting Russia on its list, a move that triggers more sanctions and would remove the state immunity of Moscow’s officials.

The resolution, backed by 494 MEPs and opposed by 58, calls on Brussels to put in place the “legal framework” to take the move and consider adding Russia.

MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan welcomed today’s vote.

However, the Green Party MEP added: “I am more focused now on getting actual help to Ukraine in terms of funding, debt forgiveness and humanitarian aid rather than another statement or resolution from the European Parliament.”

She noted that “‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ is an American term that does not exist in EU or international law”.

Irish MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly are among those who voted against the proposal. 

Explaining her decision, Daly tweeted: “This does not condone Russia’s actions in Ukraine. As I consistently have done, in votes on individual parts, I condemn Russia’s invasion and call for a withdrawal.

“My overall vote is against the improper and unwise call for the use of a “state sponsor of terrorism” designation.”

Daly added: “The proposal is an abuse of this institution by extremist factions to throw up roadblocks to peace and prolong a war that is devastating Ukraine and impoverishing our continent.”

Meanwhile, Lithuanian MEP Andrius Kubilius, who spearheaded the push for the resolution, said: “We called a spade a spade. Russia is not only a state sponsoring terrorism, but the state, which is using means of terrorism.

“The recognition of this fact by the European Parliament sends a clear political signal. Europe, Europeans do not want to remain passive, when their big neighbour violates all humanitarian and international standards.”

Lawmakers in several eastern EU countries have already voted to condemn Russian “terrorism”.

The EU has imposed eight rounds of unprecedented sanctions targeting Russia’s key oil exports and top officials since President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to attack in February.

European diplomats say work is underway on preparing a new package of sanctions after Moscow unleashed a ferocious missile and drone blitz against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure following losses on the battlefield.

The European Parliament resolution also urged the EU to include the Wagner mercenary group and troops loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on the bloc’s sanctions list of “terrorist” organisations.

- With additional reporting from © AFP 2022 

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