30 July, 2017
President Donald Trump will sign a bill imposing sanctions against Russian Federation, the White House announced Friday night. The provisions were included to assuage concerns among lawmakers that the president's push for better relations with Moscow might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from the Kremlin. He even refused to retaliate after former President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on Russia last December 2016 over unproven allegations that the Russian president personally directed covert cyber attacks against the US electoral system, resulting in Hillary Clinton's shocking defeat.
But even before Trump agreed to sign the new sanctions measure, Putin angrily ordered a staff cut at the USA embassy in Moscow and the seizure of properties used by American diplomats in Russian Federation.
The Germany Foreign Ministry said it would be "unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interests of US industry policies". Moscow has already responded, ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russian Federation and closing the U.S. Embassy's recreation retreat.
These moves were caused by a series of hostile actions by Washington, including "unlawful" sanctions and "slanderous" accusations against Russia, said Lavrov, according to a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The Trump administration had opposed the sanctions aimed at punishing Russian Federation for interfering in last year's USA presidential election.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump would sign the bill, but only after having negotiated "critical elements" of it.
"The message coming from Congress on a bipartisan basis is: These are hostile regimes and sanctions are warranted", House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday, referring to the legislation targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea.
House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy of California also pushed for the inclusion of North Korea sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.
The Russia sanctions measure, House of Representatives 3364, is a rare signal of disapproval of Trump from congressional Republicans. Trump has seemed reluctant to enact such sanctions, but appears to have bowed to domestic political pressures, mostly from his own party. "It's not good for any president - and most governors don't like to veto things that are going to be overridden". The proposed legal act requires the US government should go ahead with resistance to the laying of this pipeline. The president's associates are under investigation for possibly colluding with Moscow in its effort to defeat Hillary Clinton a year ago. Germany warned it would not accept sanctions that targeted companies involved with Russia's energy sector.
An official at the U.S. Embassy, who declined to be named because they were not allowed to speak to the media, said the Embassy employed around 1,100 diplomatic and support staff in Russia, including Russian and U.S. citizens. Once passed, as the history of the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment shows (it remained in place for thirty-eight years), it will probably stay on the books for longer than necessary and remove the flexibility and leverage that a president could have in dealing with Russian Federation. It also imposes financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
The original bill from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee included sanctions only on Iran, modeled on previous executive orders, created to punish entities that support terrorism, sell weapons to Iran, or help that country's ballistic missile program.
WALKER: Well, I mean, you could get into that kind of guessing game.