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What’s Next in Putin’s Crosshairs?

Abkhazia. South Ossetia. Crimea. The Kerch Strait. The World Cup. A 25-year reign. Putin has a record of getting what he wants. What’s next?

Since 1999, Vladimir Putin has led a Russian government that tramples on human rights and international norms. His government increasingly restricts freedom of the press and censorship is pervasive, especially for opinions critical of the government. Putin and his cronies are linked to murders of numerous political dissenters and journalists. Russian authorities persecute religious minorities that they deem “nontraditional,” such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Tatar Muslims. The Kremlin tacitly approves the Chechen authorities’ continued gross violations of human rights including disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings based on suspected sexual orientation.

Russian forces actively fight in eastern Ukraine, and earlier this year, the Kremlin further tightened its control of Crimea as it finished the illegal construction of a bridge crossing the Kerch Strait. Russian troops occupy the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia and continue to occupy the Transnistria region in Moldova against the government’s wishes. Moscow continues to prop up Bashar Al Assad’s regime—who uses chemical weapons against civilians—by providing weapons and thousands of troops.Russian cyberattacks disrupt democratic institutions around the globe. Additionally, Russia still denies its involvement in the downing of Malaysian Flight 17, resulting in the deaths of 298 people.

The United States and the European Union have responded to Putin’s provocations with sanctions designed to curb the Kremlin’s aggression. Despite these sanctions, which have damaged Russia’s economy and major corporations owned by Putin’s cronies, Putin has brazenly persisted in shattering international law and civilized norms.

Today, it appears that the Kremlin is less interested in sanctions relief and is after something less tangible: moral equivalence. The more nations that accept that Russia’s actions are morally equivalent to those of Western countries, the more the world will overlook Putin’s disregard of international norms and human rights. Moral equivalence secures his public approval—and therefore power—within his own country and gives him impunity abroad.

Download the full report to learn more.

Contributor: Sean McAndrews, Max Kampelman Fellow

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Press Releases

HEARING – The Republic of Malta: Leading the O...

Apr 10, 2024

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Rayburn 2247 Stream live here: https: https://youtube.com/live/TddF3ycKl1A WASHINGTON—The Republic of Malta stepped up to take leadership of the world’s largest regional security organization—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—demonstrating its commitment to uphold the principles of the organization, including on security, conflict resolution, democracy and […]

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Statements

Helsinki Commission Senate leadership Statement on R...

Apr 05, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC—In response to the Georgian government’s announcement that it intends in the coming days to reintroduce Russian-style “foreign agent” legislation, U.S. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Ben Cardin (Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and Senate Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee) issued the following statement: “This is a deliberate attack on […]

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Press Releases

U.S. Helsinki Commissioners Issue Statement in Nurem...

Mar 20, 2024

February 20, 2024 Nuremberg, Germany Court Room 600 NUREMBERG, GERMANY—U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02), Helsinki Commissioners Senator Thom Tillis (NC) and Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (IN-05), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-37) and Congressman Andy Harris (MD-01) led a field hearing on February 20 to examine how best to bring Russian perpetrators to account for their […]

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Hearings

FIELD HEARING–Holding Russia Accountable for its War...

Feb 20, 2024

Session One: Russian crimes against Ukraine’s children, women, and civilians, as well as the use of new technologies in the collection of evidence Session Two: Holding the Russian state and affiliated individuals accountable through courts and international mechanisms Congresswomen Jackson Lee’s Audio Statement from for the Field Hearing: “Lessons from Nuremberg”

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Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Leadership Responds to Murder of...

Feb 16, 2024

WASHINGTON — Following reports of Alexei Navalny’s death in prison, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued the following joint statement: “Alexei Navalny dedicated his life to seeing Russia free and at peace. Despite every cruel obstacle Putin placed in his way, even a near-fatal poisoning, he did not waver in his condemnation […]

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Hearings

Eyewitness Accounts: Ukrainian Children and Adult Ci...

Jan 31, 2024

  Russia’s abduction of thousands of Ukrainian children and adult civilians as part of its war on Ukraine calls for urgent U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and civilians and to hold Russia accountable for its war crimes. The Ukrainian government has documented close to 20,000 cases of children taken to Russia […]

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Press Releases

Wilson, Whitehouse, Tillis, Jackson Lee Applaud Incl...

Dec 08, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Joe Wilson (SC-2), Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Helsinki Commissioner Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Senator Thom Tillis (NC), and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) applauded the inclusion of the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act as part of the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). “We cannot allow authoritarians to extort American […]

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Hearings

Making Russia Pay: Sovereign Asset Confiscation for ...

Dec 06, 2023

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its partners and allies have frozen an estimated $350 billion in Russian reserves held abroad. Members of Congress – including members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) – and experts have advocated for governments to confiscate and repurpose these funds […]

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Press Releases

Hearing – Making Russia Pay: Sovereign Asset Confisc...

Nov 30, 2023

HEARING NOTICE – Making Russia Pay: Sovereign Asset Confiscation for Ukrainian Victory Wednesday, December 6th 2:00-3:30 PM Dirksen Senate Office Building 608 Stream live here: https://youtube.com/live/9X0Ip2wjogs In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its partners and allies have frozen an estimated $350 billion in Russian reserves held abroad. Members of Congress […]

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Press Releases

CSCE Leadership Welcomes New Executive Branch Commis...

Nov 07, 2023

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, today announced the appointment of three Executive Branch Commissioners to the Commission. CSCE welcomed Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Donet Dominic Graves, Jr., and Department of State Coordinator for […]

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In the News

Lawmakers say Kara-Murza case spotlights administrat...

Oct 26, 2023

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Hearings

Hamas’ Hostages, Putin’s Prisoners, and Freeing Inte...

Oct 25, 2023

The practice of seizing hostages and political prisoners, as well as actively terrorizing civilians is a constant displayed by Hamas in Israel and Russia’s war against Ukraine. To highlight issues related to the United States’ strategy to free hostages and political prisoners, last year the Commission’s Ranking Member Congressman Steve Cohen and Chairman Joe Wilson […]

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