Graham And Blumenthal Push Biden Administration To List Russia As State Sponsor Of Terror


Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a resolution Tuesday that would call on the Biden Administration to list Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, following calls from members of Ukraine’s parliament and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to add Russia to the list.

Key Facts

The resolution would ask Secretary of State Antony Blinken to make the designation, citing actions taken during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and incidents where Russia supported fighters in Syria and Chechnya prior to the invasion—though Blinken is not required to name Russia to the state sponsors of terror list if the resolution is passed.

When a country is designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, it faces a suspension of U.S. assistance, embargoes on military weapons, trade restrictions and other sanctions, according to the State Department, though Russia has already been penalized with some of these measures.

Blumenthal called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “thug” and a “bully” during a press conference Tuesday, and said Putin will continue to threaten Europe and the world “unless he is stopped,” while Graham said the resolution is designed to “bolster the Ukrainians’ ability to fight for their freedom” and “delegitimize Putin.”

Members of Ukrainian parliament voted last week to urge the U.S. to recognize Russia as a terror sponsor, citing atrocities committed in Bucha, Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities, while Zelensky asked President Joe Biden to name Russia last month.

Big Number

4. That’s how many countries—Syria, Iran, North Korea and Cuba—the U.S. designates as state sponsors of terrorism.

Key Background

When asked Monday about a bipartisan push to deem Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki didn’t offer specifics, but she noted many of the measures tied to the designation—including sanctions—have already been implemented since the war with Ukraine began. The United States has imposed broad sanctions against Russia’s elites, financial sector, central bank, energy industry and military in recent months. Blumenthal admitted at the press conference the U.S. has few options left to take, though he pointed to one “very important” additional step tied to Russia’s designation as a state sponsor of terror: Lifting sovereign immunity, which protects countries from being sued without their consent in civil cases.

Crucial Quote

State Department spokesperson Ned Price told CNBC last month the U.S. was taking a “close look” at designating Russia as a state sponsor of terror, though he echoed Psaki’s sentiment. “The sanctions we have in place and have taken are the same steps that would be entailed by the designation of a state sponsor of terrorism,” Price said.


The House is scheduled to vote on a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine Tuesday evening. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said the package fulfills Biden’s $33 billion request for assistance to Ukraine, providing additional funding for military and humanitarian aid. Graham and Blumenthal said during the press conference their resolution could be added to the package.

What To Watch For

Graham predicted at least 90 senators will vote in favor of the resolution if it’s brought to the Senate floor, though a vote has not yet been scheduled.

Further Reading

Ukraine’s Parliament Urges US to Designate Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (The Wall Street Journal)

Graham pushes to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, expand NATO (The Hill)

​​US is taking ‘a close look’ at whether to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. Here’s what that means (CNBC)