Biden urged designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism;  Ukraine's first cargo ship arrives at Turkish port: live updates

At least one leading senator from each party is pushing the Biden administration to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism over its invasion of Ukraine, and together they are taking their case to the airwaves.

Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both with more than a decade in the Senate, told CNN on Sunday that if President Joe Biden does not endorse the nomination, they will work to get Congress to pass a bill. issuing one. Generally, such designations are made by the Department of State.

“I hope that the president decides to take this position voluntarily and that he has not taken it off the table,” Blumenthal said.

Graham, who served in the Senate with Biden, was more direct in trying to persuade the president to put more pressure on Russia by adding it to the current list of US state sponsors of terrorism, which includes Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba. Inclusion on the list would trigger four categories of sanctions.

“Whether or not we have to legislate for this to happen, we are willing to do it,” Graham said. “I urge the administration to act now.”

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latest developments:

►US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began his three-country tour of Africa on Sunday in South Africa, one of several countries on the continent that have remained neutral over Russia’s war in Ukraine. In recent weeks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron have also visited Africa, seeking support for their positions on the war.

►Three top Russian generals in Ukraine have been sacked as poor performance by Russia’s armed forces appears to have led to a reshuffle, the British Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

►Five civilians have been killed in recent Russian and separatist attacks on cities in the Donetsk region, the part of Donbas still under Ukrainian control, regional governor Serhiy Haidai reported.

►The city of Mykolaiv, a major shipbuilding hub near Ukraine’s largest port in Odessa, now faces daily Russian shelling, local officials say.

This handout photo taken and released by Ukraine's Emergency Service on August 8, 2022 shows firefighters working to put out a fire after a missile was shot down and landed on civilian infrastructure in Uman district.

This handout photo taken and released by Ukraine’s Emergency Service on August 8, 2022 shows firefighters working to put out a fire after a missile was shot down and landed on civilian infrastructure in Uman district.

Russia has issued a warning against terrorist designation

Calling the idea of ​​designating her country a sponsor of terrorism “idiotic” and “naive,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova threatened to sever diplomatic ties between the countries if the US makes such a decision. .

“Washington risks finally crossing the point of no return, with all the ensuing consequences,” he said last week. “This should be well understood in Washington.”

The State Department says that four main categories of sanctions result from a state sponsoring terrorism designation. They include restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, tighter controls on exports of “dual-use items” with military and other uses, and various financial and other restrictions. .

The blockade eased, the Ukrainian cargo ship finally reaches its destination

A cargo ship carrying 12,000 tons of Ukrainian corn arrived in Turkey on Monday, the first vessel to reach its destination under a deal that eased Russia’s strict blockade of Ukraine’s ports.

The Turkish-flagged Polarnet docked at the port of Derince in the Gulf of Izmit three days after leaving Chornomorsk. The first ship to leave Ukraine, the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, departed on August 1 but had not reached its destination in Lebanon and was anchored off the southern coast of Turkey, according to the Marine Traffic website.

The ships sail under an agreement to unlock grain supplies and avert a potential global food crisis. Six more ships carrying agricultural cargo have been authorized to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, carrying more than 236,000 tons of grain. Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations agreed last month to create a sea corridor that would allow cargo ships to travel safely from Ukraine’s southern coast and start taking out 20 million tons of grain.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine Live Updates: Biden Urged to Designate Russia as a Sponsor of Terrorism

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