Ukraine wants U.S. to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. What does that mean?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to members of Congress in March. (Sarahbeth Maney/AP)

As Russia renews and refocuses its attacks on eastern and southern Ukraine, and as more evidence of apparent Russian atrocities emerges, Kyiv has asked Washington to deploy one of the most potent tools in its arsenal of sanctions: adding Moscow to the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made the direct appeal to President Biden during a recent phone call, The Washington Post reported. (Polish President Andrzej Duda also accused Russia of terrorism this week while on a visit to Kyiv.) But Biden — who has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” — did not commit to specific actions on the call, according to people familiar with the conversation.

The United States has led a financial war against the Kremlin since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, while also providing significant military assistance to Kyiv. Here’s what to know about Zelensky’s latest request and what Washington might make of it.