Secretary of State Antony Blinken received a directive from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to identify Russia as a sponsor of terrorism or Congress would.
Two individuals familiar with the conversation reported the warning to Politico as being delivered on a call earlier in the week. The State Department and Pelosi’s office denied requests for comment.
What is She Doing?
The secretary of state was given the authority by Congress to designate another nation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
However, some in Congress assert that members may enact a statute to establish the classification without the involvement of the State Department, applying independent pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Lindsey Graham presented a bill in May that would reiterate the Senate’s belief that Russia commits acts of terrorism, but it primarily asks Blinken to formally designate Russia as such.
Earlier in the month, they flew to Kyiv to discuss the proposal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is in favor of the U.S. officially designating Russia as a terrorist state.
The House likewise received a similar resolution that was presented.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to put the burden of the war in Ukraine on ethnic minorities to avoid a general mobilization of ethnic Russians — analysts of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). pic.twitter.com/IPfIhHBLh8
— Oriannalyla 🇺🇦 (@Lyla_lilas) July 23, 2022
A sponsor of terrorism label for Russia, according to Pelosi, is “far overdue,” she declared on Thursday morning.
The discrepancy between what the administration is confident doing and what Congress wants the government to do is highlighted by Pelosi’s remarks to Blinken.
The classification, which requires the U.S. government to limit foreign aid, restrict defense sales and exports, impose limitations on the export of goods with dual uses, etc., is promoted by House and Senate members.
The four countries the United States now considers to be state sponsors of terrorism —Cuba, North Korea, Tehran, and Syria — engage in substantially less global trade than Russia.
It Might Not Work!
This might help to explain why the State Department has long questioned the effectiveness of that action.
This is probably the most impressive Javelin strike on a Russian tank since the war started.
It comes in from the left of the screen and then dives toward the tank. pic.twitter.com/Lb4jFhd8tN
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) July 21, 2022
Speaking to reporters in April, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “The penalties we have in hand and have implemented are the same procedures that would be necessitated by the identification of a state sponsor of terrorism.”
“We’ll take a thorough look at all potential jurisdictions. One of them is this.”
However, other analysts claim the action would increase pressure on the Russian government and make any business relations with Russia for Americans nearly impossible.
Given that it would be a broad step, labeling Russia as a state supporter of terrorism would be important, according to Washington, D.C.-based Atlantic Council penalties specialist Edward Fishman.
“It introduces risk into any interaction with Russia.”
However, he pointed out after five months of the war, Congress has yet to take any significant action to penalize Russia. “Having a legislative authority makes those measures significantly more effective,” Fishman said of secondary sanctions and beyond.