The United States said that it would be counterproductive to label Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism,” rejecting calls to that effect from Ukraine and US lawmakers.
Asked about the point by a journalist on Monday, President Joe Biden responded with a simple “no,” after months of evasive answers from top officials.
This Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that using the term terrorism “was not the most effective way” to “hold Russia accountable” for its actions.
He added that such a designation could hamper the delivery of aid to some war-torn areas of Ukraine or prevent aid groups and companies from participating in a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to export the grain from Ukraine’s blockaded ports.
“It would also undermine our unprecedented multilateral (coalition), which has been so effective in holding Putin accountable, and could also affect our ability to support Ukraine” in negotiations, he told reporters.
Increase pressure on Russia
A “State Sponsor of Terrorism” label by the United States, the world’s largest economy, has wide-ranging ramifications, with many companies and banks unwilling to risk legal action by US prosecutors.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky has called on the West to formally label Russia a “terrorist state” following a series of attacks that left civilian dead, most notably an attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk in June that killed at least 18. people.
In August, the Latvian parliament declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” for carrying out “genocide” against Ukrainians.
However, French President Emmanuel Macron in June explicitly discarded the label.
In the United States, lawmakers from all parties urged Biden to brand Russia a sponsor of terrorism to increase pressure after months of economic sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
The United States has only designated four nations as state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba.