Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Wednesday introduced a bi-partisan bill that would designate the Russian government as a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
It comes the same day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described Russia as a “terrorist state” after Russian forces fired a missile on the Karachunivske reservoir, which broke and flooded the president’s home city, Kryvyi Rih, forcing evacuations.
“Putin has crossed every line of civilized norms during the war in Ukraine and years before,” Graham said in a statement.
“He has engaged in state-sponsored assassinations, the Wagner group supported by Russia terrorizes the world, and the war crimes being committed in Ukraine on a daily basis shock the conscious,” he continued, referring to the private Russian military, Wagner group, whose mercenaries have been accused of war crimes in Africa and Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin has always denied that the Wagner group is controlled by the Kremlin.
The U.S. senators said the “Russia is a State Sponsor of Terrorism Act” (pdf) would drastically curtail defense and technology exports to Russia, significantly reduce foreign assistance, and impose additional financial restrictions on Russia.
It would also eliminate Russia’s sovereign immunity in the eyes of U.S. courts, opening Russia’s government to lawsuits and other civil claims from victims of its state-sponsored terrorism, according to a news release.
Graham said that Ukrainians have been asking for Russia to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and that if enacted the bill will “be a game changer in how we deal with terrorists worldwide.”
“If Putin’s regime is not a State Sponsor of Terrorism after all this, then the designation is meaningless,” Graham said. “We believe that it is long past due to designate Putin’s Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and suffer the consequences thereof because he is a terrorist.”
On Wednesday, Zelenskyy visited a city in the Kharkiv region recently recaptured by Ukraine. He said Russian forces had left no home undamaged or church undefiled during their five-month occupation.
The Ukrainian president accused Russia of committing genocide against Ukrainians.
“The occupiers left schools turned into garbage dumps and churches broken, literally turned into toilets,” Zelenskyy said in a video on Wednesday night.
“The world must see this destruction, feel the pain that Russia has brought to Ukrainians,” he added.
“Our law enforcement officers already received reports of murders, torture, and abductions by the occupiers,” Zelenskyy added. “What the world saw in Bucha, what we saw in the de-occupied territory of the Chernihiv region, Sumy region, what we are seeing now in the Kharkiv region are evidence of genocide against Ukrainians.”
Blumenthal said Russia’s actions in the past days and weeks have shown why it deserves to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“What has been revealed in Ukraine’s success on the battlefield is not only its military prowess and Russia’s weakness, but also Putin’s reliance on brutal atrocities, genocide, and war crimes against the people of Ukraine,” Blumenthal said. “Russia has more than earned the right to be among the club of pariah nations.”
The Epoch Times contact Russia’s foreign ministry for comment.
From The Epoch Times