Ukraine War, July 31, 2022: Speaking straight–Russia as Terrorist State, and guilty of genocide

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To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.


1) Clemens Wergin, “Russland ist ein Terror-Staat und agiert auf derselben moralischen Stufe wie der IS,” den 31. Juli 2022 (02:22 Uhr);

2) Clemens Wergin, “Russia is a terrorist state and operates on the same moral level as IS,” (Google translation on website), Die Welt, July 31, 2022p (02:22 am);

3) Ingrid Brunk Wuerth, “Why designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is a bad idea,” Washington Post, August 1, 2022 (1:40 p.m. EDT);


Clemens Wergin, the chief foreign politics editor of Die Welt, has written a succinct but powerful critique of Western cowardice in responding to Putin’s war crimes going back to Grozny (Chechnya) in 1999.

The failure to call out Putin for his war crimes and aggression has led him to think he could invade Ukraine in February 2022 and meet no major opposition from the West.

The time has come to officially label Russia a terrorist state, Wergin writes. This is happening in the U.S., but nothing is being done in Europe in this regard.

The actions of Russians in Ukraine fit the definition of terrorism, he notes:

Terrorism aims to spread fear and terror in the attacked society in order to achieve political goals that would otherwise not be feasible. And that’s exactly what Russia is doing in Ukraine.

Western cowardice has strengthened Russian belligerence

Finally, Putin has committed a series of war crimes since he first became prime minister and then president – from the complete destruction of Grozny from 1999 to the Georgia war in 2008, the Ukraine war in 2014, the Syria intervention from 2015 to the renewed attack on Ukraine. The restraint of the West in the past to call Russia’s terrorist tactics as such has given the Russian leadership the impression that it will never be held accountable anyway – Geneva Conventions or not.

It is precisely this cowardice that has led to the fatal impression of Vladimir Putin and those in his power circle that a weak West is always too cowardly to decisively oppose Russian lust for war and war crimes. And it is the real cause of Putin’s miscalculation to try a new invasion of Ukraine.

Wergin concludes by calling on legislatures in Europe and elsewhere to classify Russia as a terrorist state:

It is therefore time to learn from the mistakes of the past and to clearly identify Moscow’s crimes. This includes Western parliaments and governments recognizing the genocide character of the Russian war, the aim of which is the extinction of the Ukrainian nation. And this also includes classifying Russia as a terrorist state in the EU and treating it as such.

Despite the cogency of Wergin’s arguments, Ingrid Brunk Wuerth raises a number if technical and legal considerations that argue against designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

While she is also appalled at the war crimes Putin has committed, Wuerth argues for sanctions more precisely targeted at these crimes. She prefers this approach to the cruder approach of designating Russia as a sponsor of state terrorism, which may have unexpected and undesirable effects, which she details.

On balance, Wergin’s analysis of the cowardice of the West in responding to Putin’s war crimes rings true, while his recommendation of declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism,in view of Wuerth’s arguments, may not be the best approach. Additional targeted sanctions could be better.

The Trenchant Observer


See also,

Only force can stop Putin

“Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2922 .

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About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.