White House responds to idea of labeling Russia as ‘sponsor of terrorism’

White House responds to idea of labeling Russia as ‘sponsor of terrorism’

The US has already slapped Moscow with sanctions similar to ones reserved for state sponsors of terrorism, spokesperson Psaki says

Washington says it has already imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia that are usually reserved for countries the State Department designates as state sponsors of terrorism.

At a regular press briefing on Tuesday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was answering a question about the recent push by Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“We have been doing, already, what has happened to those other countries. So, extensive financial sanctions, export controls, also working diplomatically to limit investment by other countries in the pariah states – the other four and, certainly, Russia,” the spokesperson said. “So we’ve already been taking those steps.”

The US blacklisted Syria, Iran, Cuba and North Korea. The last two were eventually dropped from the list but re-added during the Trump administration. Iraq, Libya, Sudan and South Yemen had been added in the past and later removed.

Washington bans weapons sales to and imposes economic restrictions on countries it views as those practicing and supporting terrorism. Senator Graham has argued that adding Moscow to the list would send a strong message of support to Ukraine and be another step in “making sure that Putin’s Russia is marginalized” on the world stage.

Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, dismissed the proposed move last month as “idiotic in nature” and said Russia would retaliate.

On Tuesday, Lithuania’s parliament passed a resolution accusing Russia of genocide and terrorism in Ukraine. Zakharova blasted the decision as “an extremist step,” adding that it does not contribute to bringing peace to Ukraine.

Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk Agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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