A bipartisan pair of senators are calling for the Biden administration to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism for its war in Ukraine. The move comes after several years of strained relations between the U.S. and Russia

On Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., unveiled a bill that would slap the designation onto Russia. 

“Putin is a thug, and a bully, and he will continue being an increasing threat to Europe and the world unless he is stopped,” Blumenthal said at a news conference. “If there is anybody who embodies terrorism, and totalitarianism and tyranny, it’s Putin."

If successful, the designation would require the U.S. government to impose restrictions on any foreign assistance to the designee, impose a ban on defense exports and sales, enact export controls on dual-use products, and an array of heavy financial sanctions. 

It would also open the door to other measures like lifting the "sovereign immunity" provided to Russia and most other nations that protect them from lawsuits filed by individuals for civil damages without the consent of those countries, according to Blumenthal.

Currently, there are only four countries that are designated as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Iran. 

Ostensibly, the call for the designation is a result of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine on Feb. 24. However, the language in the bill also mentions assassination attempts on Putin critics abroad and the Russian bombing campaign in its breakaway region of Chechnya in 1999 and its 2016 bombings of the Syrian city of Aleppo. In 2014, the Obama administration and the European Union imposed sanctions in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The Biden administration has not openly taken a position on whether it supports the designation or not. At a press conference Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the designation would make Russia a "global pariah," but noted that the current sanctions regime by the U.S. and its allies were already doing that.

But she did not rule out President Joe Biden signing any bill on the matter if it reaches his desk: “We’ll see what happens in Congress.”

Last month, Ukraine’s embattled President Volodymyr Zelensky directly appealed to Biden to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terror as evidence emerged of Russian atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. The administration however has demurred from following through with what was described as the “nuclear economic option.” 

On the same day that Graham and Blumenthal made their pitch to Biden, Lithuania’s parliament announced that it would issue the designation against Russia. In a tweet, Graham praised the country for setting an example and expressed hope the U.S. would follow its example.

“I hope the Biden Administration, with encouragement from the U.S. Congress, will follow your lead and also designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Graham tweeted on Tuesday.