This bill — the Stopping Malign Activities from Russian Terrorism (SMART) Act — would direct the State Dept. to report to Congress about whether Russia qualifies as a state sponsor terrorism. It would also report to Congress within 90 days about whether the following armed entities qualify as foreign terrorist organizations: entities in the Donbas region of Ukraine controlled or aided by Russia; and entities controlled by or associated with the Donetsk People’s Republic or Lugansk People’s Republic.
What is Senate Bill S. 1189?
Cost of Senate Bill S. 1189
In-Depth: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced this bill to initiate a process for determining if Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism and would potentially lead to its designation as such:
“Vladimir Putin continues to try to cause grievous harm to international peace and stability, and I’m pleased today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced my critical legislation directing the State Department to consider naming Russia what they are - a state sponsor of terror. Putin’s Russia has invaded its neighbors Georgia & Ukraine, supports the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad and many of our adversaries around the globe, and is engaged in election meddling and active information warfare against Western democracies. Russia is also directly responsible for heinous terrorist acts, such as the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 that killed 298 people, including an American citizen, and the chemical weapons attacks in the United Kingdom in 2018 that killed two people, including a British citizen. Unless Russia fundamentally changes its behavior, we must not repeat the mistakes of past Administrations of trying to normalize relations with a nation that continues to pose a serious threat to the United States and our allies.”
Since Gardner first introduced this bill, there have been reports that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. troops.
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered State Department officials to make the case for declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism after a former Russian spy and his daughter with poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent on British soil in 2018, but abruptly ended the initiative. Explaining the abrupt halt to Tillerson’s initiative, a U.S. official told ProPublica: “There are a lot of issues that we have to work on together with Russia. Designating them would interfere with our ability to do that.”
U.S. officials say that the State Department’s reluctance at the time to impose the terror designation was not a product of Trump administration sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Instead, it reflected an ambivalent, and sometimes contradictory, policy towards Russia on terrorism issues stretching back over a dozen years.
Even as Washington has grown more concerned about an array of Russian security threats, it has continued to seek Moscow’s cooperation in combating terrorism. Although this approach has yielded few victories, advocates of the policy argue that it has been one of the few areas of common ground in which cooperation remains possible during a period of increasing confrontation. David McKean, a former director of policy planning at the State Department, frames the situation thus:
“Russia is clearly a bad actor on the world stage. But terrorism is an area where we have to keep trying to talk to them. They can either play a negative role or not play a negative role — or occasionally play a positive role.”
The Brookings Institute’s Daniel Byman agrees that adding Russia to the State Department’s official list of sponsors of terror would be counterproductive:
“Russia is indeed a sponsor of terrorism. But designating it as such would be counterproductive, and a closer look at the question shows the limits of designation as a tool of U.S. foreign policy… The case for adding Russia is surprisingly straightforward… Yet for now at least, adding Russia to the list would be a mistake... Although various Russian actions can be considered ‘terrorism,’ most don’t neatly fit the category. In Syria, Russia is backing a murderous regime that slaughters its own civilians, even to the point of using chemical weapons against them. But such support, while abhorrent, is not really terrorism. Even for Moscow’s actions that involve non-state groups or clandestine violence, terms like ‘subversion,’ ‘influence campaigns,’ and ‘revolutionary war’ fit better.”
Of Note: State sponsors of terrorism are those countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. Currently the State Department lists four countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) (2017), Iran (1984), Sudan (1993), and Syria (1979). The sanctions imposed as a result of this designation are applied pursuant to the Export Administration Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act which collectively fall into four major categories:
Restrictions on U.S. foreign aid to the country;
A ban on defense exports and sales;
Controls placed on exports of items that can be used for civilian or military purposes; and
Miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
Brookings Institute (Opposed)
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: Kremlin via Wikimedia / Public Domain)
Stopping Malign Activities from Russian Terrorism Act
A bill to require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The house has not voted
- The senate has not voted
Committee on Foreign RelationsIntroducedApril 11th, 2019
- senate Committees