Homeland Preparedness News: Congress members call for Russia to be designated state sponsor of terrorism

HOMELAND PREPAREDNESS NEWS, LIZ CAREY

U.S. Reps. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) led members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in urging the U.S. State Department to determine whether or not Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Congress members and seven of their fellow lawmakers asked the state department to evaluate if Russia’s war crime in Ukraine and support of U.S.-designated terrorist groups meet the threshold for state-sponsored terrorism. Such a designation would allow the United States to have even more expansive abilities to hold Russia accountable, the group said.

“As Russia conducts a brutal war and commits widespread war crimes against the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is leveraging another tool to achieve his political objectives: non-state groups engaged in terrorist activity,” the group wrote. “As the global community seeks to support Ukraine and ensure Putin’s aggression fails, we must pursue every avenue to impose costs on his regime. Given the Russian government’s support for non-state terrorist groups prior to and during the Ukraine conflict, we respectfully request that the State Department deliver an assessment to us on whether Russia meets the requirements to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The group said Russia harbors and supports terrorists, providing sanctuary to a U.S.-designated terrorist group, the Russian Imperial Movement, and reportedly recruiting troops from the Wagner Group, a private military company with a history of human rights violations. Over the past few weeks, the group said, reports indicated that Russia has deployed Wagner troops in Ukraine and Syria, as well as committing rights abuses in Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali, and Mozambique to primarily suppress civilian populations and prop up authoritarian governments.

Finding evidence to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism would allow the U.S. government to further isolate Russia economically and diplomatically, the group said, including freezing Russia’s assets, including real estate, in the United States; vetoing Russian efforts to secure World Bank or International Monetary Fund loans; and taking action against countries that continue to do business with Russia.

“The free world has been shocked at Russia’s violent, barbarous acts against civilians,” the letter said. “But we cannot ignore its use of non-state actors engaged in terrorist activity as a separate tool to achieve Putin’s political objectives. We urge you to promptly consider all evidence for a potential designation of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

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