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Calls for an increase in the US Congress to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism

As the war in Ukraine nears the end of the fifth month and Russia’s attacks on civilian places are announced almost daily, pressure is mounting on the Biden government to publicly designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

This week, according to a report from PoliticoNancy Pelosi, the parliamentary speaker, told Foreign Minister Antony Blinken that if he did not use the power entrusted to him by the parliament to make the nomination, the MPs themselves would do so.

Russia is already under paralyzing sanctions by the United States and a number of other countries, but a public designation as a state sponsor of terrorism would increase the target in some respects. As the international aspects of current sanctions have been carefully harmonized, a state sponsor of a terrorist designation could impose stricter sanctions that could apply to third countries doing business with Russian individuals and companies.

In addition, the nomination would abolish Russia’s sovereignty in the United States and open the door for Americans affected by the war in Ukraine to sue the Russian government in the United States.

The government is reluctant

Pelosi is the supreme legislator to recommend that the government take action, but it is not the first. Earlier this month, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Richard Blumenthal traveled to Kyiv to unveil legislation they introduced in May that would make the nomination public.

A bill with the same goal was introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Joe Wilson and Democrats Ted Lieu.

However, the Biden administration has seemed reluctant to take that step. In the past, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry has said that the current sanctions regime is sufficient to achieve the government’s purpose.

Also, a state sponsor of terrorist designations would call for “derivative” sanctions that the United States would have to impose on individuals and countries outside the United States that do business with Russia. Such an appointment could hamper efforts to unite a broad-based alliance of states that are pressuring Russia to end its aggression in Ukraine.

Possible new precedent

John Herbst, who served as the US ambassador to Ukraine from 2003-06, told VOA that he had little doubt that Russia had met the criteria to be appointed a sponsor of terrorism.

“I believe that violence against civilians for political purposes is one of the definitions of terrorism,” said Herbst, now head of the Eurasia Center Atlantic Council. “If it is true, then it is clear that the Russian government is pursuing a policy of terrorism.

He pointed out, however, that in the past, the nations covered by the nomination had been nothing more than regional power at most.

The United States now considers four countries to be state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria. The list has previously included Iraq, Libya, southern Yemen and Sudan, but those countries have since been removed from the list.

Adding Russia to the list would be a significant departure from previous practices and would set a new precedent.

“Wet instruments”

Herbst, who has been a vocal critic of what he calls “the Biden government’s slow and timid policy of providing Ukraine,” said he would support state-sponsored terrorism nominations for Russia, but with some reservations.

“I support it, but it is not my priority,” he said. “If the administration was completely intact on weapons and sanctions, we would not need it at all. Because they are not, I can see the usefulness of the nomination. But in general, I myself do not like blunt force. I’d rather have the flexibility. “

Ingrid Brunk Wuerth, Helen Strong Curry, chairwoman of international law at Vanderbilt Law School, agreed that the sanctions imposed by the state sponsor of terrorism designations could be broader than necessary to punish the Kremlin even further, given that “Russia is under tremendous pressure from the United States and Russia. she is.”

In addition, Wuerth said she was particularly concerned about the impact of opening up Russia to civil cases brought by the United States.

Loss of “contract letter”

Theoretically, US creditors should have the right to sue to recover damages against Russia – damages that could be paid out of Russian assets that are now frozen in US financial institutions.

In the past, she said, frozen assets have been used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with hostile foreign governments. For example, she cited the release of frozen Iranian assets as part of the 1981 Algiers Agreement, which put an end to the long-running US hostage crisis in Iran.

“If we give US creditors the money we have, they will not be available as a bargaining chip against Russia,” Wuerth said. In addition, she said, because the law restricts those qualified to sue U.S. citizens and U.S. government officials, it would mean that damages recovered by the U.S. would reduce the funds available to benefit the Ukrainian state and citizens. its.

Wuerth pointed out that the United States was not the only country with frozen Russian assets and that if others followed the lead of the United States and allowed their citizens to sue for damages, it would further deplete the treasure that could be used to directly assist Ukraine. .

Zelenska address

Discussions on further measures to punish Russia’s aggression against Ukraine took place in the same week as Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska visited Washington and delivered a speech to two US lawmakers on Wednesday.

She said Russia’s “unprovoked war of aggression” was “destroying our people” and recalled stories of some of the unspoken numbers of civilians, many of them children, who have died in the nearly five months since the war began.

“I am asking for weapons – weapons that will not be used to wage war on someone else’s land, but to protect one’s home and the right to create life in that home,” Zelenska told lawmakers. “I’m asking for an air defense system so that missiles do not kill children in the carts… and kill whole families.

At his weekly press conference on Thursday, Pelosi, Speaker of Parliament, praised Zelenska’s speech, adding that Russia’s actions in Ukraine had gone beyond the war and crossed the border into war crimes.

Pelosi described the “tragedy of what is happening to children and women and others in this war, how Russia has used rape as a weapon of war, when in fact it is a war crime.

She argued that the rape, in particular, took place not because of the decisions of individual soldiers, but according to the orders of Russian military commanders, as a way of “moralizing” the Ukrainian people.

“The parliament will continue to stand with Ukraine in their struggle to defend democracy, not only for its own people but for the world,” Pelosi said.

Calls for an increase in the US Congress to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism

Source link Calls for an increase in the US Congress to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism

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