US Senate passes resolution seeking to label Russia as terrorism sponsor

Supporters of Russia commemorating the victory of USSR over Nazi Germany, in Aleppo, Syria, on May 5, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The United States Senate unanimously approved a non-binding resolution on Wednesday (July 27), calling for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism for actions in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria and Ukraine that resulted "in the deaths of countless innocent men, women and children".

A similar measure had been introduced in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to support its passage.

However, the power to designate a state sponsor of terrorism resides with the State Department.

Nevertheless, the Senate's passage of the resolution puts more congressional pressure on the Biden administration to add Russia to a list of state sponsors of terrorism that includes Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria.

"Armed forces of the Russian Federation have committed numerous summary executions against innocent civilians and have attempted to cover their atrocities with mass graves across Ukraine," the Senate Bill reads.

The language of the measure echoes what President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has asserted throughout the war: that Russian forces have committed acts of brutality against civilians, including rape, murder and torture, that amount to terrorism.

Mr Blinken's office, when asked for comment on Wednesday night, pointed to earlier remarks.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked about the congressional pressure and whether the administration was concerned that designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism would complicate any future negotiations to end the war.

He responded that the State Department was responsible for taking "the criteria that Congress has written into law" regarding the designation "and to compare that to the facts on the ground", a process that he said was under way.

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