President Joe Biden has decided not to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.
Biden on Monday said Russia should not be given that "sponsor" designation, a label Ukraine has pushed for amid Russia's ongoing invasion while Moscow has warned it would rupture U.S.-Russian ties.
Asked during Tuesday's press briefing whether Biden's decision were final, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: "Yes, it is. I mean, I'll let his words stand for himself. He answered it pretty simply."
The Washington Post had reported in April that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a direct appeal to Biden for the U.S. to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.
Jean-Pierre was asked Tuesday whether Biden had conveyed his final decision directly to Zelenskyy or to members of Congress.
"I can't speak to conversations, private conversations specifically on this, that the president has had [with lawmakers or Ukraine's president]," said the press secretary, who added Biden and Zelenskyy had spoken recently.
Russia last month told the U.S. that bilateral diplomatic ties would be badly damaged and could even be broken off if Russia is declared a state sponsor of terrorism.
Jean-Pierre said Biden based his decision on several factors, including not wanting to avoid delaying food exports or jeopardizing deals to move goods through the Black Sea.
"As the president has said, and as we do think as well, it [the designation] is not the most effective or strongest path forward, as we have said many times before, to hold Russia accountable," she told reporters. "This designation could have unintended consequences to Ukraine and the world.
"For example, according to humanitarian expert and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] we have spoken to, it could seriously affect the ability to deliver assistance in areas of Ukraine."
The press secretary also said the designation could "drive critical humanitarian and commercial actors away from facilitating food exports to help mitigate the global food crisis and jeopardize the Black Sea port deal that has already led to over a million tons of Ukrainian food exports reaching the world, including those on the horn of Africa likely facing famine."
Reading directly from notes, Jean-Pierre said the designation also would "undercut unprecedented multilateral condition that has been so effective to holding Putin accountable and could also undermine our ability to support Ukraine at the negotiation table."
Reuters contributed to this story.
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