Designate the Russian Federation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism

In violation of international laws and treaties, including the 2003 Border Treaty signed by Vladimir Putin and then-President Kuchma of Ukraine, the Russian Armed Forces invaded Ukraine. The goals of this unprovoked invasion were to strip Ukraine of its sovereignty, overthrow its democratically elected government, eradicate Ukrainian statehood and national identity, and absorb Ukrainian territories into the Russian Federation.

As a result of the Russian invasion, the Russian Federation expanded the occupation of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, occupied the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, and illegally declared the annexation of those territories. After having suffered battlefield defeats in Ukraine, Russia has resorted to nuclear blackmail, threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine to force the country into submission and putting the world on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. The Russian government was also implicated in the sabotage of international energy infrastructure, namely, the Nord Stream gas pipeline, to bully the international community into rescinding its support for the Ukrainian resistance.

The Belarus Freedom Forum believes that this invasion, the subsequent criminal conduct by the Russian military, and the ongoing threats to and blackmail of the international community by Russia constitute acts of international terrorism. We urge the United States to acknowledge this fact by designating the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Since the beginning of the invasion, the Russian government has enabled and encouraged its military forces to terrorize, torture, and rape the civilian population of the occupied Ukrainian territories. Russian armed forces backed by the Russia-controlled private military and paramilitary regiments have kidnapped and transferred to Russia thousands of Ukrainian children. To subjugate the local population, the Russian military resorted to indiscriminate killings and executions, rape, and torture. As they retreated from Bucha and Irpen, the Russian occupation army left behind the mass graves containing the bodies of hundreds of civilian victims. These graves serve as horrendous evidence of the widespread use of terror tactics on the Russia-occupied territory of Ukraine. The scale of these crimes against humanity and the organized attempts to cover up these crimes point toward the fact that the perpetrators planned and committed them under their higher command’s direction.

Russia has been deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine by bombing homes, hospitals, maternity wards, and schools, resulting in the death of thousands of innocent people. Last summer, Russian forces shelled and later occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, turning it into a military base, thus creating the risk of a nuclear disaster. The attacks in October 2022 destroyed 30% of the Ukrainian energy system, causing a widespread electricity outage and a shortage of fresh water. During harsh European winters, these conditions are likely to cause a humanitarian disaster. The recent Putin’s announcements about the so-called “dirty bomb” triggered the fear that Russia will deploy these weapons in Ukraine, polluting the water and soil and cutting the civilian population from life-sustaining resources. Such indiscriminate civilian targets are illicit and are clearly prohibited by international law.

The Belarus Freedom Forum calls on the United States to consider the aforementioned war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian government or its military forces in Ukraine and designate the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Belarus Freedom Forum urges the United States to continue providing comprehensive military and humanitarian help to Ukraine until its Russia-occupied territories are completely liberated, and the threat of a re-invasion is eradicated. It is the only way to prevent Russia from instigating yet another genocide against neighboring countries.