A pair of unlikely allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), are calling on the Biden administration to add Russia to the official list of state sponsors of terrorism. If Russia is designated, it will suffer financially and militarily.
“We should be all in on helping Ukraine. We should be all in in making sure that Putin is marginalized and his country is marginalized as long as they are engaging in the behavior they are engaging in,” Sen. Graham said.
Graham estimated 90 senators would be willing to support the Senate resolution the two are introducing to officially call on the Biden administration to put Russia on the list.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy supports the designation, and Ukraine’s parliament formally asked the United States Congress to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terror.
“It will put Russia outside the pale of civilized nations. It puts Russia outside the family of nations that adhere to basic norms of decency and morality,” Sen. Blumenthal said.
Only Secretary of State Antony Blinken can make the determination. Russia is already subject to severe sanctions because of its invasion of Ukraine, but being designated as a state sponsor of terror would add more.
Countries on the list are banned from defense exports and sales, and there are some restrictions to dual-use items. Those items include anything that can be used for both civilian or military applications, like global positioning satellites, night vision technology, and nuclear technology.
The authority to enforce the sanctions comes from three laws: the National Defense Authorization Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act.
As Sen. Blumenthal explained, individuals would have a right of action against Russia, or the ability to initiate a lawsuit against Russia.
“Designating Russia as a state sponsor of terror would waive its sovereign immunity,” Blumenthal said.
Sen. Graham said the designation would have a two-fold impact.
“It sends a strong message to the people of Ukraine: We listened to you, and we agree that the person who is destroying your country, who is murdering, raping, and killing your citizens runs a nation that is a state sponsor of terrorism,” Graham said. “We are also letting the Russian people know that our fight is not with you, but is with Putin.”
Graham said Putin deserves to be investigated for war crimes that have happened under his watch going back 20 years. Graham added that if Putin is not held accountable when the war is over, then every law in the book “becomes a joke.” President Biden has used equally strong language when he called Putin “brutal,” that he should be tried for war crimes, and that Putin “cannot remain in power.”
There are currently four countries on the official list of state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria. Other countries have been added and since removed, including Iraq, Libya and Sudan.