US Senators seek to designate Russia as a "State Sponsor of Terrorism"
While the US is divided on how to tighten Russian sanctions, it remains that Democrats, Republicans, and the Biden administration are all convinced that anti-Russia sanctions are a necessity.
US senators, both Democratic and Republican, have introduced legislation on Wednesday, which if passed, would designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. According to Reuters, this label has been pushed for by Ukraine, however, US president Joe Biden’s administration does not support such a designation.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat in support of the Russia designation, told a news conference, that "The need for this measure is more pressing now than ever before," citing the alleged killing of civilians. In parallel, a Republican supporter of the bill, Lindsey Graham, had stated that such a step would assert and strengthen support for Ukraine as well as send a message to other US allies.
Graham also supported imposing penalties against Russia allowing it to be sued in US courts for its alleged actions in Ukraine while also tightening anti-Russia sanctions.
The two senators have been advocating for the bill for a while and even made a trip to Kiev in July to further promote it. However, as of yet, it is unclear whether the measure will reach the voting stage.
One of the other supporters of the bill would be Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi who commented on the topic earlier in July saying that such a designation, for Russia, has been “long overdue.”
Biden has stated that he does not want to designate Russia in this manner. According to administration officials, the designation is not the most effective method to "hold Russia responsible" and may impede humanitarian aid delivery to Ukraine.
According to State Department spokesman Ned Price, the administration is discussing with legislators measures "analogous" to those that the designation would impose on Russia's economy.
Price highlights that "We have to take into account the consequences, intended and unintended" that result from designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. He further added that "We are engaging with Congress on tools that would continue to have analogous implications for the Russian economy, for the Russian government, that would not have those unintended consequences."
Moscow has warned Washington that adding Russia to the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, which now includes Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria, would jeopardize diplomatic relations.
The bill introduced by Blumenthal and Graham includes a clause that would allow the President of the United States to waive the designation for national security grounds after certifying to Congress that Russia is no longer supporting acts of international terrorism.