Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham are continuing their Ukraine tour, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss a bill designating Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and a pledge to support Ukraine in “hand-to-hand insurgency” against Russia.
Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, Graham and Blumenthal said the law they intend to pass would put Russia in the category of Iran, Syria and North Korea, which are the only other states designated as state sponsors of terrorism.
Graham expressed his confidence that he would be able to pass the bill with near-unanimous support in the Senate. Both senators received thanks from Zelensky for their continued support of the country’s efforts against Russia.
Citing photos he saw of suspected war crimes by Russian forces in Bucha this March, Blumenthal said that it was evidence that Russia deserved the designation.
“If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is,” said Blumenthal, omitting any mention of suspected war crimes committed by Ukrainian forces against supporters of the Russian invasion and Russian prisoners of war.
Additionally, both senators expressed their belief that Ukraine could mount a successful insurgency in areas occupied by Russian forces using U.S.-supplied weapon systems for a counter-offensive.
“Long-range artillery is very, very important. But so is the hand-to-hand insurgency that we are hoping to see in eastern Ukraine, in the territory that's already been occupied by the Russians,” Blumenthal said.
The move would effectively turn the already war-torn region into new Aleppo, the Syrian city destroyed by insurgents amid the ongoing Syrian war.
Blumenthal pledged to provide even more arms to Ukraine, including HIMARS rocket systems with “longer ranges,” which would potentially enable Ukraine to fire directly into Russia if they choose to breach their commitment to the United States. He also promised to support Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship missiles and air-defence systems under condition that Ukraine does not use these weapons on Russian soil.
The Biden administration has thus far declined to provide Ukraine with longer-range HIMARS systems, which have an effective range of 300 miles due to concerns that Ukraine would strike at Russian cities.
“We have a chance here in the next 60 days ... the decisions we make can turn the tide of this war in favor of Ukraine,” Graham said.
Russia meanwhile said on Thursday that it is still open to the idea of peace talks with its Ukrainian counterparts, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had barely gotten started in Ukraine and dared the West to bring its military might against Russian forces in the region.