The Senate unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution on Wednesday calling for Secretary of State Antony J. 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 be a strong supporter of its passage. However, the power to designate a state sponsor of terror resides with the State Department.
Nevertheless, the Senate’s passage of the resolution puts yet 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. Congress has approved more than $50 billion in aid to Ukraine.
“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, asked for comment on Wednesday night, pointed to his earlier remarks.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, the State Department’s 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 underway.