US foreign policy

Biden administration rebuffs Senate calls to designate Russia as terror state

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The Biden administration on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, hours after US lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislature calling on the United States to do so.

State Department Spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing that the administration was against the move, citing “unintended consequences,” including potential humanitarian costs on aid being delivered to Ukrainians.

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“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,” Price said.

He added: “We have to take into account the consequences, both the intended and the unintended. And that has led us to the approach we’ve taken here.”

Although Ukraine has heavily pushed for designating Russia as a state sponsor of terror, White House Spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that President Joe Biden had made a final decision against it.

“It is not the most effective or strongest path forward,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “This designation could have unintended consequences to Ukraine and the world,” she added, pointing to food exports and ship movement through the Black Sea.

Russia has publicly warned the Biden administration against the designation, saying it would have the potential to rupture diplomatic ties between the two countries completely.

Earlier this year, two US senators introduced a non-binding resolution to designate Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The two senators, Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal, introduced new legislation on Wednesday looking to bypass the State Department and administration and unilaterally declare Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Designating a country allows the US to issue more sanctions and restricts US foreign assistance to that country, and bans defense exports and sales, among other moves.

The US has designated only four countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba.

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