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‘Long overdue’: Pelosi affirms support for labeling Russia a sponsor of terrorism

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she’s urging the State Department to label Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, though she declined to elaborate on whether Congress would act if the Biden administration doesn’t.

Pelosi said in a brief interview that a state sponsor designation for Moscow is “long overdue,” adding: “I’ve been advocating it for four months, at least.”

The speaker’s comments come after POLITICO reported that she told Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week that Congress would make a formal declaration on the matter if he did not, as Russia’s war in Ukraine becomes more brutal by the day. Pelosi also declined to address her conversations with Blinken.

Authority to designate nations as sponsors of terrorism is typically reserved for the secretary of state, but many in Congress are now pushing for a more forceful pressure campaign aimed at Russia. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a non-binding resolution calling on Blinken to make the designation and gifting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a framed copy of the resolution during a visit to Kyiv.

Lawmakers have spoken out in larger numbers recently to call attention to what are being described as Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution to declare Russia’s actions in Ukraine as a genocide.

During her weekly press conference on Thursday, Pelosi spoke about Russia’s efforts to “demoralize” the Ukrainian people, in particular women and children.

“These are not just the soldiers raping girls; this is an order — an attempt to demoralize the Ukrainian people,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi invited Olena Zalenska, Ukraine’s first lady, to address Congress on Wednesday. Zalenska displayed images of children and families who have been killed, injured or displaced by Russia war.

“Help us to stop this terror against Ukrainains,” Zalenska said.

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