Donald Trump's hands tied on Russia sanctions

EU worries new Bill will damage its energy interests.

Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, the US House overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits President Donald Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress.

Lawmakers passed the legislation, 419-3 on Wednesday, clearing it for action by the Senate. If senators move quickly, the Bill could be ready for Mr Trump’s signature before Congress exits Washington for its regular August recess.

The Senate, like the House, is expected to pass the legislation by a veto-proof margin. The package, which targets Russia, Iran and North Korea, “tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries in order to keep Americans safe,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said.

The 184-page measure serves as a rebuke of the Kremlin’s military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed President Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, Moscow and the European Union hit out at the US over the new sanctions.

While Moscow and Tehran raised the prospect of retaliation over any fresh punitive measures, the EU also warned it was “ready to act to protect European interests” if the legislation hit dealings with the Russian energy sector.

Despite initially opposing the bill, Mr Trump appears to have few options in the face of near-total consensus in Congress, with a decision likely due by mid-August.

Moscow responded angrily to the vote, with deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov insisting Washington had been warned “dozens of times” that any new sanctions would “not go unanswered”.

In a rare feat, the US vote has also managed to upset EU nations worried that it could damage their energy interests.

( Source : AFP )
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