A Russian diplomat warned that if his country is declared a state sponsor of terrorism, it could not only harm US-Russo relations but potentially sever them completely.
On Friday, Alexander Darchiyev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American department told the TASS news agency:
“I would like to mention the legislative initiative currently being discussed in Congress to declare Russia a ‘country sponsor of terrorism.’ If passed, it would mean that Washington would have to cross the point of no return, with the most serious collateral damage to bilateral diplomatic relations, up to their lowering or even breaking them off. The US side has been warned.”
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have been leading an effort to pressure the Biden administration into making the terror designation, which would allow new categories of sanctions. The are only four designated countries today: Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria.
On July 28, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism. At the time, Graham said this about a potential designation:
“It means that doing business with Russia with that designation gets to be exceedingly hard – it has secondary effect sanctions, it would limit dual export items, and more importantly it would waive sovereign immunity when it came to suing Russia in U.S. courts. This designation would be a nightmare for Russia.”
Blinken, however, has said a terror designation wouldn’t change things much: “The costs that have been imposed on Russia by us and by other countries are absolutely in line with the consequences that would follow from designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”
On Thursday, the Latvian parliament made its own terror-sponsor designation of Russia. “Latvia recognizes Russia’s actions in Ukraine as targeted genocide against the Ukrainian people,” declared the legislature’s resolution.
“A timely move,” tweeted Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba. “Russia has long deserved this status with its actions in Ukraine and beyond. Ukraine encourages other states and organizations to follow suit.”
As we wrote in June, “the U.S. government’s application of terrorist designations has been impulsively disingenuous to the point that it saps the label of any meaning apart from the financial consequences. In practice, terror designations are just another means of bludgeoning countries that are out of favor with the U.S. government.”
Designating Russia a state sponsor of terror over a conventional military invasion would represent just the latest bastardization of the term. Indeed, if the terror label were attached to every invasion that’s accompanied by alleged war crimes, the U.S. government would have to designate itself.