White House confirms Donald Trump's plan to sign Russian Federation sanctions bill

Pauline Gross
July 29, 2017

Republicans and Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to conclusions by US intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the election.

Moscow has responded by ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russian Federation and closing the U.S. Embassy's recreation retreat.

When asked why the Russian response came before US President Donald Trump signed the bill, Peskov said: "Because in this case the bigger importance, probably, is the form, in which (the bill) passed the Senate". If the bill obtains enough bipartisan support among lawmakers, however, Congress would be able to override a veto.

Speaking at a news conference in Finland on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin derided the sanctions bill now in the U.S. Congress as "illegal under worldwide law" - but he said Russia's response will depend on what ultimately gets passed.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that while Moscow has been doing "everything possible" to improve the relationship, "recent events showed that United States policy was in the hands of Russophobic forces, pushing Washington to the path of confrontation".

Earlier on Thursday, a senior White House aide said Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew skepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill.

Also, Russian authorities said they would seize a vacation home used by American diplomats outside of Moscow, as well as warehouse in the Russian capital.

Russia to seize US properties in retaliation over sanctions

The legislation, McCain said would impose mandatory sanctions on transactions with the Russian defence or intelligence sectors, including the FSB and the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency that was primarily responsible for Russia's attack on U.S. election.

Trump's vow to extend a hand of cooperation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as skeptical lawmakers look to limit the executive power's leeway to go easy on Moscow over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has yet to sign off on the package.

"I think that would be a very bad mistake", Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told VOA. This news was confirmed by #White House after the Congress approved the policy that would press new penalties against Russian Federation on Thursday. "This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days", Juncker said in a statement. As the danger of an escalatory tit-for-tat grows, mechanisms meant to prevent US-Russian confrontation have been breaking down, analysts said. Russian Federation said it reserved the right to take further measures if the USA retaliates.

Russians could strike out at the U.S. in any number of ways, continuing to target the United States diplomatic presence in Russia and USA properties there, and escalating its harassment of U.S. diplomats.

Trump's positions on Russian Federation are generally hard to assess because he's often stepped away from his more controversial proposals.

One thing is clear, Beebe said.

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