Staunton, November 28 – There are more than 200 groups that one or another country has identified as terrorist, Vladislav Inozemtsev says; but there are only four countries – Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and South Yemen – that the United States identifies as state sponsors of terrorist acts beyond their borders. Russia is now at risk of joining them, he says.
There is no more damning accusation than that, the Russian economist and commentator says; and the fact that some in the US are now considering that possibility for Russia must be worrisome to Moscow because from it would follow sanctions far more severe than any the Kremlin has seen so far (snob.ru/entry/168743).
When Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and unleashed the war in the Donbass, many Ukrainian officials accused Russia of being a sponsor of terrorism; and after the shooting down of the Malaysian civilian airliner, such calls spread to Europe as well, Inozemtsev continues. But such charges multiplied after the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury last spring.
It was at that time that American congressmen began demanding that Russia be included in the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Shortly thereafter, Senator Lindsay Graham introduced a bill, “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression,” which required that the State Department consider whether Russia should be on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
That bill has not been considered by the Senate largely because of the campaigns in advance of the mid-term elections in the US, Inozemtsev says; and it was dismissed as “being beyond good sense” by Putin’s spokesman. But now that the elections are over and in the wake of new Russian actions, it is likely to be taken up at the start of next year.
At the very least, the inclusion of Russia on such a list is going to become the subject of more discussions as more information comes out about the recent actions of the Russian special services and “private military companies” comes out, the latter because of the suite of 357 members of such units in the International Court.
According to Inozemtsev, the prospects that this question will not only be raised but decided in the affirmative are “extremely realistic.” That doesn’t mean that the West will stop all contacts with Russia: it hasn’t with others on the list. But it does mean that there will be more pressure for a new round of far more draconian sanctions.
“In almost all cases when a country lands on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, serious financial measures are introduced, including among the very first restrictions on any international transactions.” That prospect should give the Kremlin pause and should lead more Russians to ask why Moscow has been acting as it has.
The Crimean Anschluss made a certain amount of sense from Putin’s point of view: it boosted his rating at home and highlighted Western weakness. But what he has been doing since then is more difficult to explain or justify. In many cases, his actions appear to defy common sense in that they have brought neither him nor Russia any benefit.
“Why support a failed dictator in Syria if you don’t even fully control him? Why get more heavily involved with Hezbollah and Hamas if no one in the West will have anything to do with these organizations? Why have the foreign ministry conduct negotiations with the Taliban? Is it really necessary to kill one’s own former spies? … and finally, why expand actions with band formations in Africa” and link odious regimes with senior Russian officials?
According to Inozemtsev, “even the imagined use from such exertions is close to zero, while as a result of them, the chance of becoming identified as the patron of ‘great terror’ in the eyes of the civilized community is greater than ever before.”
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