Washington D.C. [United States]: U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia after being approved by overwhelming majorities in Congress.
According to reports, the sanctions bill targets Russia’s mining and oil industry and aims to punish the country for interfering in the 2016 presidential election as well for its military aggression in Ukraine.
U.S. lawmakers on Thursday passed a legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea and that will now head to the President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
The bill was approved overwhelmingly by the Senators 98-2 and that gives Congress new powers to block Trump from easing sanctions. It passed the House on Tuesday 419-3.
This is one of the first major bipartisan pieces of legislation passed during Trump’s presidency.
“Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies. My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better,” Trump said on signing the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”.
“We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies,” the statement added.
Russian President Vladimir V Putin announced on Sunday that 755 American diplomats would be expelled from Moscow by September 1.
The expulsions were ordered on Friday when Russia ordered the United States to reduce the number of their diplomats in the country as a mark of retaliation for new sanctions against Moscow passed last week by the US Congress.
Putin, while speaking in a television interview on the Rossiya 1 network, said that “Russia’s patience in waiting for improved relations with the United States had worn out.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also threatened further retaliation against the U.S. sanctions.
“If the US side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer, we will respond in kind,” CNN reported Ryabkov, as saying to ABC’s “This Week.”
The growing tensions between Russia and the US over the sanctions bill come in the wake of the congressional investigations into Russian hacking into the 2016 election, which the US intelligence services have said was an effort to influence the election in Trump’s favour.