The Biden administration needs to consider designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, as it meets the legal criteria with its invasion of Ukraine, Jason Blazakis, the former director of the State Department Counterterrorism and Finance Designations Office, said in a Newsmax interview Sunday.
"What you're seeing on TV and what they're doing on Ukraine against civilians, it's just so heart-wrenching to see, but beyond that, the country has provided support to groups that are on the State Department's terrorist list," Blazakis said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America."
He noted that in April 2020, the Trump administration added a group, the Russian Imperial Movement, which operates freely in Russia, to the State Department's list of terrorist groups and that Russia "has been involved in political assassinations as well for a number of years," said Blazakis.
Further, designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism would broaden the scope of sanctions against Russia, because it would allow the State and Treasury departments to go after countries that continue to do business with the country unless a presidential waiver is put in place, he said.
Another important result would be in making it more difficult for Putin to "launder his reputation" after the Ukraine hostilities.
"This guy's like Teflon," Blazakis said. "Everything bounces off of him. But once you actually have him this merged with the title of arch-terrorist leader that's difficult to come back from, so there's that impact as well."
The move would also have a significant impact on export controls and decrease the number of goods that can be used for civilian and or military purposes, he added.
Putin, meanwhile, has already declared that sanctions are a form of war, but Blazakis said he does not think further measures would push him to extremes such as the use of nuclear weapons, although he acknowledged there have been "a lot of miscalculations" where the Russian president is concerned.
"I don't think sanctions would actually cross his red line," he said. "The hope is, sanctions would inspire individuals to continue to protest against Russia…but, would it be the silver bullet? I don't think there are any silver bullets in this conflict."
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