Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Graham Reuters/Yuri Gripas/ABACAPRESS.COM

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on Wednesday for Russia to be added to the US government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The bipartisan duo said that they will introduce legislation into the Senate that would add Russia to the list that includes Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Syria.

Last week, President Joe Biden said Russia should not be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, a label Ukraine has pushed for amid Russia's ongoing invasion and which Russia has warned would rupture US-Russian ties.

"We believe that Russia has more than earned the right to be among the pariah club of Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Syria," Blumenthal said during a press conference with Graham. "Brutal, cruel oppression that amounts truly to genocide because people have been killed simply because they are Ukrainian."

Both lawmakers said that while the measure goes against Biden’s position, they believe they have the support of Congress behind them. In July, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution that urged the White House to add Russia to the list.

"If we disagree on this point, it in no way diminishes our support for the administration continuing and increasing aid to Ukraine, which must continue," Blumenthal said.

"I would say that Congress has been bolder in the last several years, I think. Under Trump's watch I pushed some ideas that I thought were good [that] the president was reluctant to do,” Graham added.

They said that putting Russia on the list would give the US expanded ability to punish Moscow for bad behaviour.

"It would really matter," Graham said. "It would waive sovereign immunity regarding Russia standing in U.S. courts. They could be sued in U.S. federal court for the damage done in Ukraine."

Blumenthal said that it came down to “moral authority” to go after Russia for committing war crimes.

"The truth is that this regime has become a terrorist state," Graham told reporters. "The Russian people, I feel sorry for – their life is pretty miserable right now, too."

Graham explained that defeating Russia would also send a message to China about invading Taiwan in the future.

"If we can help Ukrainians defeat Putin, his ambitions to destroy Ukraine, rewrite the map of Europe – it changes China's behavior," he said.