A Russian diplomat warned Friday that a decision by the United States to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism would mark a "point of no return."
"It would mean that Washington would have to cross the point of no return, with the most serious collateral damage to bilateral diplomatic relations, up to their lowering or even breaking them off," Alexander Darchiev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's North American Department, told TASS Russian news agency. "The U.S. side has been warned."
The U.S. Senate passed a non-binding resolution urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to label Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism in July, but he has not acted on it. The designation is currently only held by North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran.
Lawmakers like Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have remained vocal on the issue, telling CNN on Sunday that if President Joe Biden doesn't get behind the label, they would work toward getting Congress to pass a bill issuing one. Typically such designations are made by the State Department.
"I hope the president will decide to adopt this stance voluntarily, and he hasn't taken it off the table,'' Blumenthal said.
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►Ukraine's Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, as of Saturday, has recorded 464 episodes of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian culture, including the destruction of 139 objects of cultural heritage, the agency said in a Telegram statement.
►Russia's gross domestic product contracted 4% in the second quarter of this year, the first full quarter since Russia sent troops into Ukraine, the Russian state statistical service said Friday.
Russian shelling heavy in east; Ukraine strikes key bridge
Residential areas across Ukraine were pounded by Russia's military overnight while Ukrainian forces pressed a counteroffensive to try to take back an occupied southern region, striking the last working bridge over a river in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, Ukrainian authorities said Saturday.
Three civilians were killed and 13 injured by shelling in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, the city council wrote Friday on Telegram, encouraging people to comply with a standing evacuation order. Kramatorsk is the headquarters for Ukrainian forces in the country's war-torn east.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed Saturday its troops had taken control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk, the provincial capital that pro-Moscow separatists have claimed since 2014.
Russian forces and the Kremlin-backed rebels are looking to seize the Ukrainian-held area north and west of Donetsk so that the separatists' self-proclaimed republic can expand. But the Ukrainian military said Saturday that its forces prevented an overnight advance toward the smaller cities of Avdiivka and Bakhmut.
-- Associated Press, Ella Lee
Zelenskyy calls for ban on European visas for Russians
In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on European Union states to ban visas for Russian nationals, saying inaction would turn Europe into a "supermarket" for Russians.
"One cannot destroy the very idea of Europe, our common European values, that is, one cannot turn Europe into a supermarket where it does not matter who enters - the main thing is that a person simply pays for the goods," he said.
The Ukrainian president said he didn't mean Russians fleeing the nation in search of freedom from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but rather Russians seeking tourism who aren't fighting back against their nation's attacks on Ukraine.
Zelenskyy first suggested issuing a visa ban in an interview Monday with the Washington Post.
-- Ella Lee
Friday updates: Ukraine, international officials decry 'alarming' military activity near nuclear plant
Ukrainian minister says Russia blocking access to medicines
Ukraine's health minister has accused Russian authorities of committing a crime against humanity by blocking access to affordable medicines in areas its forces have occupied since invading the country months ago.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko said Russian authorities repeatedly have blocked efforts to provide state-subsidized drugs to people in occupied cities, towns and villages.
"Throughout the entire six months of war, Russia has not (allowed) proper humanitarian corridors so we could provide our own medicines to the patients that need them," Liashko said, speaking at the Health Ministry in Kyiv late Friday.
"We believe that these actions are being taken with intent by Russia, and we consider them to be crimes against humanity and war crimes that will be documented and will be recognized," the minister said.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine updates: Russia warns against state sponsor of terrorism label