What happens if the US labels Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism?

(NewsNation) — Americans Thursday will hear from two influential senators, one Republican and one Democrat, making the case that the United States needs to designate Russia as an official state sponsor of terrorism.

Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have been arguing the issue for some time, but their stance is now bolstered by a high-profile trip Russian President Vladimir Putin made to North Korea.

Putin broke longstanding norms by announcing his support for Kim Jong Un to expand North Korea’s defense capabilities, which many took as an endorsement of North Korea’s nuclear program.

Russia, for the last few decades, has been united with the U.S. to oppose North Korea’s nuclear ambitions — until now.

The situation is also unfolding as Russia continues its assault and invasion of Ukraine.

So, what does it mean when the U.S. designates a country as a state sponsor of terrorism? It’s an official label that says a country has repeatedly supported acts of international terror.

It also means automatic sanctions kick in, including a ban on arms-related sales, limits on all trade to and from that country and prohibitions on any economic assistance.

Some of these same sanctions, plus more, have already been levied on Russia, which is — in part — why some high-level senators who spoke with NewsNation are hesitant to get behind the idea.

Many are still considering or weighing the option, and there seems to be support for condemning Russia.

However, some are asking whether it’s the most effective course of action.

Congress can’t unilaterally make that decision. It would have to be the State Department that makes the call, but an endorsement from Congress would be meaningful.

The Pentagon also recently acknowledged that Russia put a nuclear weapon into space, which was perceived in the U.S. as a potential threat.

Senators Graham and Blumenthal had been making their push well before that news broke, but it adds another dimension to their threat.

If Russia is developing antisatellite weapons in space, and they were detonated, it would kill all the satellites the U.S. has in orbit and disrupt life as we know it.

Everything from cellphones to GPS, communication and the internet all rely on satellites.

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