US State Department officials are looking at every tool available to them to hold Russia accountable for the war in Ukraine, including the possibility of labeling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, according to a senior administration official. The process could take weeks before a determination is made, the official said.
“We're taking a close look at the facts. We're taking a close look at the law,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price on CNN Monday when asked about the possibility of designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism on Monday. “Whether it is this authority, whether it's any other authority available to us under the law, we will apply it if it's effective and appropriate.”
The definition of a state sponsor of terrorism is a country that has “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” according to the State Department. There are only four countries that are currently labeled state sponsors of terrorism by the US: North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Syria.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked US President Biden in one of their recent phone conversations to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, CNN reported last week.
The US has already rolled out severe sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war, but adding Russia to the list would be a symbolic move that would also inflict an even greater cost on Russia’s economy. It would lead to actions such as prohibiting Russia from buying certain items that can be used commercial or militarily, and sanctions on other people and countries still engaged in certain trade with Russia.