Article by: Mat Babiak
On April 23 of this year a petition was started on U.S. government portal We the People, a tool to make issues and concerns clear to the Obama administration. The petition called for the U.S. to designate Russia legally as a state sponsor of terrorism, and just recently crossed the 100,000 signature threshold to warrant an official response. The response from the White House, however, skirts around the issue of designating Russia officially as a terrorist state, and instead lists the current sanctions imposed on Russia for its current war waged on Ukraine. This message in a subtle way illustrates that the U.S. and its international partners have imposed three of the four types of sanctions one would impose on a state sponsor of terror, stopping short of the full suite of sanctions – the missing category being restricting controls over exports of dual use items.
The following is the official response:
The Secretary of State has the authority to determine which countries have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism and so designate them as “state sponsors of terrorism” pursuant to three laws: Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, Section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include: restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. Currently, four countries are so designated: Syria, Cuba, Iran, and Sudan.
We remain deeply concerned by Russia’s continuing destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine and its ongoing failure to fulfill the commitments to which it agreed in Minsk. We are also very concerned that, according to a U.N. report published in mid-November, Russia’s noncompliance and ongoing aggressive actions continue to result in fatalities — military and civilian — in eastern Ukraine, with an average of 13 per day.
In response to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, including its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, the United States and its international partners have imposed sanctions in Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors. Dozens of senior Russian officials, members of President Putin’s inner circle, and other individuals materially or financially supporting actions undermining or threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence are now subject to asset freezes and travel bans. The United States and our G-7 partners are no longer supporting development finance for Russia.
We have repeatedly made it clear that President Putin has a choice. If he is willing to find a lasting settlement to the conflict within the context of the Minsk agreements and without setting unreasonable conditions, sanctions could be rolled back. If Russia continues to flout its commitments and continues its dangerous and destabilizing actions, then the costs to Russia will continue to rise.