The country does not fit America's criteria for such a designation, according to Washington's envoy for global criminal justice
The US cannot designate Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" since it simply does not fit the relevant criteria, the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack told a briefing on Tuesday, while commenting on a similar initiative by European lawmakers.
The EU parliament adopted a resolution calling Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" on Wednesday.
"The designation of a state sponsor of terror in terms of the way US law defines it is not a good match for Russia here," Van Schaack told journalists. Washington is currently "exploring other potential designations" that would allow it to potentially imposed further sanctions on Moscow, the ambassador added.
According to Van Schaack, such a label would not be necessary since the US is already "utilizing our sanctions to an incredible degree."
The non-binding resolution by the EU parliament was supported by 494 MEPs while 58 voted against it and 44 abstained. The MEPs particularly stated that Russia's attacks on "the civilian population of Ukraine [and] the destruction of civilian infrastructure" amount to "war crimes" and "acts of terror."
The document also called on Brussels to develop a relevant legal framework allowing it to officially designate entire nations as sponsors of terrorism, adding that it is currently not possible.
The resolution also demanded what it called the "comprehensive international isolation" of Russia, including the further reduction of diplomatic relations and the swift adoption of a new round of sanctions. "Contacts with its official representatives at all levels (should) be kept to the absolute minimum necessary," the document said.
On Tuesday, Van Schaack said the US is "very interested in what the Europeans are doing," adding that such a resolution "carries great weight." The EU parliament's document adopted so far is largely symbolic as it does not impose any legal commitments on Brussels.
On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry blasted any such designations as a way for the West to legitimize their "unilateral coercive measures" against their perceived adversaries.
"A number of nations representing the 'collective West' use such labels as a 'terrorist state,' 'terrorist regime' or a 'state sponsor of terrorism' to designate those nations [they consider] 'unwelcome' and not fitting their warped perceptions of democracy," Ivan Nechayev, the deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department, told the Russian media.