Vladimir Putin has been met with protests in Armenia as Europe slaps Russia with terror sponsor label

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution on Wednesday to designate Russia as a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’, just as Vladimir Putin arrived in Yerevan, Armenia, for a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). , Russia’s collective military alliance. .

“The deliberate attacks and atrocities perpetrated by the Russian Federation against the Ukrainian civilian population, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law constitute acts of terror against the Ukrainian civilian population. Ukraine and constitute war crimes,” the parliamentarians said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova retorted on Wednesday that the European Parliament should be named a “sponsor of idiocy”.

Resistance to Putin is also bubbling in other regions, even in countries Russia considers allies. On On Wednesday, the Russian president was greeted by hundreds of protesters in Armenia, carrying lit torches, signs saying “no to war”, and Armenian, Ukrainian and American flags. Protesters gathered in Russia Square and Nzhdeh Square and called on Armenia to distance itself from Russia, according to The Times of Moscow.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinynan also appeared to try to distance himself from Putin during a photo op on the sidelines of the meeting. The behavior appeared to be a far cry from Putin’s last visit to Armenia in 2019, when Pashinyan took a selfie with Putin.

Pashinyan, of course, has other reasons to distance himself from Putin. Armenia’s prime minister has expressed dissatisfaction in the past with the way the Russian-led CSTO handled an upsurge in fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia this fall.

Pashinyan again expressed his frustration at the CSTO meeting on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“It is depressing that Armenia’s CSTO membership has not deterred Azerbaijan from aggressive actions,” Pashinyan said.

Putin only acknowledged that the CSTO had “problems”, but did not specify what they were.

The growing resistance to Russia comes just as Russia unleashed strikes on Ukraine on Wednesday, hitting a maternity hospital and killing one newborn baby and three in Kyiv, according to Ukrainian authorities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of committing “acts of terror and murder” following the attack.

Zelensky asked Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations to request a meeting of the UN’s National Security Council after Russian strikes on Wednesday, which hit a maternity hospital.

“The killing of civilians, the destruction of civilian infrastructure are acts of terror,” Zelensky said Wednesday.

The European Parliament’s website was down following the terrorism sponsor’s announcement in what appeared to be a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, in which hackers flood a site with traffic so that it doesn’t can no longer function. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said it was a “cyberattack” for which “pro-Kremlin” hackers claimed responsibility. A spokesperson said it was a DDoS attack.

“My answer: Slava Ukraini,” Metsola tweeted, repeating a phase that means “Glory to Ukraine.”

The outage echoed Latvia’s experience when it designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism in August, after which the Latvian parliament’s website was down in another apparent DDoS attack.

Although the designation of Europe is largely symbolic, it represents a growing wave of opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Besides the European Parliament and Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic have also adopted similar resolutions.

Many members of Congress have urged the Biden administration to designate Russia as well, but the United States has so far avoided designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, which would put Russia on a short list of countries, including North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Syria.