17:23 GMT22 February 2020
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    On Wednesday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced a bill to ask the State Department whether it would be appropriate to designate Russia as a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ alongside countries including Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

    Moscow “regrets” US lawmakers’ decision to use outright Russophobia ahead of the 2020 election campaign, as evidenced by the Senate Foreign Relations’ Committee’s effort to dub Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

    “We understand perfectly well that Russia has become one of the main topics not only in presidential campaigns, but in other election campaigns across the United States. We have repeatedly expressed not only our regret, but our rejection of such approaches. It’s clear that they do not complement bilateral relations or serve to develop them,” Zakharova said, speaking to reporters in Moscow on Thursday.

    “Everything that’s going on in the House and the Senate lives its own strange sort of life when it comes to Russia. It doesn’t lend itself to any sort of analysis or logic," the spokeswoman added. According to Zakharova, such actions can be described "by one overarching term: Russophobic politics in one’s own opportunistic goals, and not even in one’s interests.”

    Zakharova said she was surprised that so many American politicians can’t seem to come up with anything new, or to focus on other issues, including the missed opportunities and lost profits caused by the hysterical anti-Russian campaigns in US politics in recent years.

    According to Zakharova, if “real experts” were given access to US media, ordinary Americans could find out how much has been lost thanks to the actions “of people engaged in the destruction of the fabric of Russian-American relations.”

    Terror Designation

    On Wednesday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the ‘Stopping Malign Activities from Russian Terrorism (SMART) Act’ a bipartisan bill asking the State Department to determine whether Russia should be designated a state sponsor of terrorism. If the designation is granted, policymakers would have the opportunity to slap Russia with additional sanctions.

    If passed, the bill would require Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report to Congress about whether Russia warrants a ‘terror sponsor’ designation. The bill now heads to debate in the Senate and House, and if passed will land on President Trump’s desk for signature.

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the terrorism designation initiative just one day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Washington to discuss ways to improve relations.

    State of Russian-US Relations

    Relations between Russia and the US sunk to lows not seen since the Cold War starting in early 2014, in the aftermath of a US and EU-backed coup d’état in Kiev, which prompted the Crimean peninsula to break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia following a referendum. The Ukrainian crisis prompted the US and its European allies to slap Russia with a series of sanctions, while NATO began an unprecedented military buildup along Russia’s borders in Eastern Europe. The sanctions have been extended every six months since then. The two powers have also voiced disagreements on how to approach numerous conflicts around the world, including the crises in Syria, Libya and Venezuela.

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