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Will Russia be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism?

Photo: Anthony Blinken listens to Dmitry Kuleba's address
Source: MSN

According to Volodymyr Zelensky, during the full-scale invasion, more than 60% of Russian missiles were fired at civilian objects in Ukraine.[1] Official representatives of the Russian authorities no longer hide the real motives for such actions. If in the first stages of the war, the Russian leadership declared that the Russian soldiers strike only at military facilities, now they openly admit that strikes on civilian infrastructure are an element of the Russian strategy. The spokesman of the President of the Russian Federation, Peskov, said that the lack of light and heat in many areas of Ukraine is "the consequence of the actions of the Kyiv authorities, which, in particular, refuse to negotiate." Vladimir Putin, in turn, declared that it was a revenge. "Yes, we do it. But who started it?[2] Who hit the Crimean bridge, who blew up power lines of the Kursk nuclear power plant, who does not supply water to Donetsk? Stopping water supply to a city of a million people is an act of genocide. No one said a word about it anywhere," Putin said in his interview.

From the point of view of the Russian leadership, such actions will allow the Russian Federation to destabilize the situation inside Ukraine and use it in the future to put pressure on the Ukrainian government and achieve military and political goals. This is not the first time Russian leadership uses terrorist methods. It has become a common practice for the Russian army: to kill, kidnap civilians, use torture, destroy infrastructure and entire cities. This time, however, the answer will be different and the Ukrainian authorities have already launched the process of bringing Russia to justice. One of the most important directions in this regard is the recognition of the Russian Federation as a terrorist state. It is already possible to observe significant progress in this direction.

At the initial stage, Ukraine and the partner countries experienced a certain pause due to political and legal nuances. In the foreign policy practice of the United States of America, there is such an experience of declaring certain actors as state sponsors of terrorism. This status implies a ban on American aid to such countries, exports, loans, guarantees, other financial assistance, export licensing and general supplies of ammunition. This status entails legal, economic and diplomatic consequences. The country is turning into an outcast in the main international arenas, and most states will avoid cooperation with this state because of the risk of worsening relations with the United States.[3]

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has not yet recognized Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism in accordance with his authority. Probably, the main reason is the potential impossibility of further dialogue with the Russian Federation on other strategic issues. Moscow threatened to imply sever diplomatic relations towards the US if this status were to be introduced. The current government in Washington is still trying to avoid such situation and maintain a strategic dialogue. In addition, the Biden administration probably believes that it will be possible to have a constructive dialogue with Putin's successor. Also, such a step will make it difficult for European companies that have not left the Russian market to do business in the Russian Federation, which can complicate relations between the United States and partner countries. The set of possible consequences, according to the current American leadership, may have negative consequences. At the same time, both chambers of the US Congress called on the Secretary of State to recognize the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism in the summer. [4] According to Politico, Nancy Pelosi told Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism — otherwise, Congress will. In the future, an option is possible, according to which the State Department will find a consensus with Congress and secure a similar status for Russia, however, it will avoid the inclusion of the Russian Federation in the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Anthony Blinken announced an alternative option that would avoid "unintended consequences " in December.[5]

In Europe, there was no practice at all to recognize other countries as terrorist or sponsors of terrorism, as in the United States. However, the initiative of the Ukrainian leadership and the willingness of European countries to express solidarity with Ukraine have made adjustments to the diplomatic practice of European partners. First, the Eastern and Central European states: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Poland adopted documents in which they recognized Russia as a state supporting or committing acts of terrorism. After that, a similar resolution on the recognition of the Russian regime as a terrorist one was adopted by PACE. PACE thus became the first organization to make such a decision. After PACE, the European Parliament recognized Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. An important point is that MPs called on the EU and member states to develop a legal system within the EU that would punish the Russian regime.[6] The decision of the European Parliament prompted the government of the Netherlands to assign to the Russian Federation a similar status at the national level, which does not carry significant legal consequences, but creates a precedent in Western Europe. This example was also followed by the Baltic countries. The Sejm of Poland and the Parliament of the Czech Republic.

Thus, the initiative to recognize the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism has been rapidly developing. This process was especially facilitated by the gradual destruction of the Ukrainian energy system by agressor state. Russia, by its own example, demonstrates a simple truth - terrorist methods rarely lead to political gains.

The recognition of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism in the EU and the possible assigning of this or an alternative status in the USA may have serious consequences for Russia. Firstly, measures that are symbolic at first glance are a powerful tool for countering Russian propaganda. No matter what narratives the Russian propaganda, together with its agencies abroad, will promote in the future, the actions of the Russian Federation at the official level were recognized as terrorism, and the Russian Federation will keep its legacy in any way. Secondly, these steps are a blow to the authority and reputation of the Russian Federation. Even without legal restrictions on cooperation with the Russian Federation, Russian companies and organizations, the status of a terrorist country can reduce the willingness of foreign companies to work with Russia. Thirdly, the current Russian government is being delegitimized. After the invasion, the Russian Federation keeps losing credibility on the international stage, and Vladimir Putin is increasingly turning from a powerful dictator into an unwelcome guest and, at the official level, is effectively equated with a war criminal. This aspect is related to the fourth consequence - the recognition of Russia as a terrorist state often includes a call to bring Russian criminals to justice. In particular, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly not only recognized the Russian Federation as a terrorist state, but also called for the creation of a special international tribunal regarding Russian aggression. Thus, the initiative of the Ukrainian authorities, which at the initial stage seemed to be only symbolic, lays the groundwork for the creation and conduct of a tribunal against Russian criminals, in particular, its top authorities.

1.  Понад 60% росіи?ських ракет були випущені по цивільних об’єктах Украі?ни — Зеленськии?, 09.12.2022, URL: zelenskij/
2.  Кремль визнав: ударами по інфраструктурі Украі?ни намагається схилити Зеленського до переговорів, 17.11.2022, URL:
3.  СПЕЦПРОЄКТ: РОСІЯ — ДЕРЖАВА-ТЕРОРИСТ Все, що ви хотіли знати про статус держави- спонсора тероризму, Дата звернення: 13.12.2022, URL:
4.  Євгенія Луценко, Сенат США закликає Держдеп визнати росію краі?ною-спонсором тероризму, 28.07.2022, URL: sponsorom-terorizm
5.  Конгрес США працює над альтернативою визнання РФ краі?ною-спонсором тероризму – Блінкен, 04.12.2022, URL: 32161329.html

6.  Європарламент визнав Росію державою-спонсором тероризму, 23.11.2022, URL: https://