A week after U.S. President Joe Biden startled the world with Armageddon warnings, Russia crossed over red lines of human civility by launching a murderous barrage of more than 80 missiles aimed at Ukraine civilians. The United States should respond to this escalation of civilian genocide by adding Russia to the list of countries that are “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” Currently, Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran are on the State Department’s Terrorist Sponsor list.  

Russia deserves a terrorist pariah status after Russian President Vladimir Putin recently threatened the world with nuclear attacks, illegally annexed 20% of Ukraine’s territory with a sham referendum in which Ukrainians were forced to vote in favor at gunpoint, mobilized 300,000 army reserves, while Russia likely sabotaged two critically important gas pipelines from Russia to Germany. If this isn’t terrorism then the word has no meaning and the U.S. should officially acknowledge it.

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Shortly after the missile attack that killed at least 12 civilians and injured dozens more, Estonia’s Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu courageously stated that Estonia considers Russia a sponsor of terrorism. Estonia, which shares a perilous border with Russia, decided that it won’t wait for Armageddon to occur – and neither should the U.S. Both Latvia and Lithuania, which also border Russia, have already officially declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism.”

Admittedly, Putin’s war in Ukraine is crumbling, but he still remains the most dangerous terrorist in the world. Over the past eight months Russia has committed war crimes and terrorism against innocent Ukrainian civilians; 1.6 million have been forcefully relocated, including 260,000 children kidnapped to “filtration camps”; tens of thousands have been tortured, executed or raped. Entire cities like Mariupol with a population of half-a-million were reduced to rubble, resembling a nuclear holocaust.

Ukraine's Precipice
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The $61-billion military aid package from the United States, if passed as expected, will allow the Armed Forces of Ukraine to bomb troops and operations behind enemy lines.

Putin recently mobilized an additional 300,000 reserves, as if to suggest that Russia will either win the war or the world will be destroyed. In the highly unlikely event that Russia wins, the entire population of Ukraine – 40 million –could be exterminated, kidnapped or relocated since genocide has become the official policy of Russia. Why appease Putin while he redirects his genocide and dangerous rhetoric not just at Ukraine but the entire world?

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Surprisingly, the only thing stopping the dominos from falling on Moscow is the U.S. State Department and President Biden. They have the authority to declare Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism.” But despite mounting pressure they have refused to implement a nonbinding Senate resolution, which passed unanimously in July 2022, designating Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” amid fears of a diplomatic breakdown, but widely viewed as an appeasement stance. Meanwhile, the fight continues after a Senate bill was introduced on Sept. 14 that would bypass the State Department’s approval for the designation.

It seems ludicrous that the State Department believes it can engage in meaningful diplomacy with the world’s most dangerous terrorists. For decades Russia has waged wars with widespread civilian atrocities in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and now the horrid civilian atrocities in Ukraine. These countries and our allies have repeatedly entered into peace negotiations with Russia, resulting in the same mistakes of escalation and atrocities.

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In early August the Kremlin furiously warned the U.S. against implementing the resolution against Russia and the State Department has obliged. The U.S. should ignore Russia since they can stop the war anytime at their choosing. Likewise, if placed on the terrorist list they can continue diplomacy with the US at their choosing. For example, Sudan was removed from the list in 2020 after diplomatic agreements to normalize relations with Israel.

Labeling Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” would tighten economic sanctions on the Russian economy, already damaged by sanctions, and allow the U.S. to penalize countries doing business with Russia. “It would be a nightmare for Russia,” according to Senator Lindsay Graham  (R-SC) a co-sponsor of the July resolution with total bipartisan support.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested that additional sanctions on Russia are “moot,” with current sanctions being adequate. This explanation seems superficial given the ever increasing and always more insane escalation of terrorist actions and warmongering from the Kremlin. Not to mention that only 7 out of 359 Russian banks have been cut off from the SWIFT monetary system.

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Russia has repeatedly committed civilian genocide and war atrocities with relative impunity. Rather than abiding by Putin’s appeasement playbook, the U.S. should punish and isolate Russia with a terrorist designation and give Ukraine the sophisticated weapons it needs to win the war decisively. That’s the best strategy to stop Russia’s human atrocities and prevent Armageddon.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post.

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