U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday released a statement renewing his call for the State Department to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, following the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands announcing that it will prosecute and seek international arrest warrants for four individuals, including three Russian nationals, responsible for the missile attack that downed MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people.
Senator Gardner recently introduced the bipartisan Stopping Malign Actions from Russian Terrorism (SMART) Act, which requires a determination on designation of the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism and the designation of the Russian-backed rebels in the Donbas region of Ukraine as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
"Despite continued denials from the Kremlin and the Russian-backed rebels on their involvement in the downing of MH17, the international community remains united to uncover the truth and bring justice for the 298 innocent people murdered on MH17, including an American citizen. It is my hope that today's report and action by the Dutch authorities brings some closure to the families of the victims of this barbaric violation of international law," said the senator.
"Russia’s abhorrent actions around the world, including support for terror groups in Ukraine and Syria, the chemical weapons attacks on the soil of a NATO ally, and interference in elections around the world, should be more than enough to formally label Putin's Russia what it is – a state sponsor of terrorism," Gardner stressed.
With this bill, Congress is demonstrating "firm bipartisan resolve" against Kremlin's mendacity, the senator said, adding that he hopes it will "move quickly" to pass the Senate.
According to the State Department, the penalties for the designation include "restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions."
On November 20, 2017, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, pursuant to reporting requirements under the Gardner-supported Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) legislation, which was signed into law on August 2, 2017.