The most effective and efficient damage to Russia and its military machine will be the recognition of the Russian Federation as a state – sponsor of terrorism. This belief was expressed by Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak during a panel discussion on the introduction and application of sanctions on the aggressor country, which took place in the framework of the Yalta European Strategy (YES) annual meeting.
Former US National Security Adviser, Ambassador Michael McFaul also took part in the conversation, which was moderated by chair of the editorial board of the Financial Times Gillian Tett.
As the Head of the Office of the President noted, since the beginning of the full-scale aggression, the Ukrainian authorities, in particular with the help of the International Expert Group on Sanctions Against Russia (Yermak-McFaul Group), managed to introduce extremely tough sanctions against Russia and its military and political leadership. Export control and restrictions in other areas were applied. However, this is not enough to stop the aggressor - the world must designate the Russian Federation a state that supports and finances terrorism.
"It is a very important issue that is facing us today and on which we are working very hard. Today, it is the so-called silver bullet for the Russian military machine - designating Russia a state – sponsor of terrorism. I think the next document, which we plan to publish soon, will deal with this very issue," Andriy Yermak said.
According to the Head of the President's Office, designating Russia a state – sponsor of terrorism by the United States will be an extremely powerful step.
Michael McFaul, who chairs the International Expert Group on Sanctions together with Andriy Yermak, added that the issue of designating the Russian Federation a state – sponsor of terrorism must be raised constantly. According to him, as long as the Russian army is in Ukraine, Russia must get new sanctions every day.
He compared the imposition of sanctions with parking fines: "If a car is parked incorrectly, it receives a new fine every day. The same goes with sanctions: as long as the Russian army is in Ukraine, Russia should receive new sanctions every day," said Michael McFaul.
In this context, the issue of abandoning Russian energy carriers was discussed, which, according to Andriy Yermak, although difficult, has prospects for advance.
"Of course, it is not easy for our European partners. We feel it. But the plans for a gradual – but already with quite clear terms – abandonment of Russian energy carriers look very optimistic. There is such a goal, and they really have concrete plans," said the Head of the Office of the President.
He emphasized the importance of implementing these plans as soon as possible, because today the main income of the Russian Federation and the source of financing the military machine is the export of energy carriers.
"As long as this war continues, as long as Ukrainians are being killed every day, sanctions are definitely not enough. Russia must feel even more every day that this war will cost it very, very dearly. All Russians must feel it," said Andriy Yermak.
The Head of the President's Office noted that this is not only about the top leadership of the country, but also about all citizens of the Russian Federation who support the aggressive policy of their leaders. Therefore, it is necessary to apply restrictions to Russians, in particular visa restrictions.
In addition, Andriy Yermak emphasized the inadmissibility of proposals to mitigate sanctions against Russian oligarchs in exchange for their financial donation to Ukraine. Michael McFaul, for his part, called the proposed financial assistance completely insufficient.
"At a time when we are appealing to our partners to increase sanctions, it will be unfair and wrong for us to talk about any mitigation. Do we see a slowdown at the front? Do we see that they have stopped killing Ukrainians? Does someone liberate our territories of their own free will, without the success of our warriors? I think we don't see it," said the Head of the Office of the President.
At the same time, he reminded that today many countries are considering the adoption of special laws that would allow the use of frozen assets, primarily of Russian oligarchs, for the benefit of Ukraine.
"So if they have a desire to somehow help Ukraine, they have an easier way: they can turn to the governments of those countries where they have frozen assets and hand them over of their own free will, without delaying the process in the courts," Andriy Yermak summarized.