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US Senate approves new sanctions on Russia, Iran

20 June 2017
US Senate approves new sanctions on Russia, Iran

Both sides of the aisle came together in the Senate on Thursday to overwhelmingly pass legislation that puts new sanctions on Russian Federation while limiting President Trump's ability to remove them, the Hill reports.

The congressional review measure is part of a wider deal that would not only strengthen those existing sanctions, but also enact new ones. If approved, the legislation will then be approved by the House of Representatives and, finally, be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The sanctions come on the back of numerous rounds of other punitive measures taken by the US and the European Union in response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of the country's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

The new bill would slap sanctions on companies in other countries looking to invest in those projects in the absence of United States companies, a practice known as backfilling. Republican Senator Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, were the only two "no" votes.

To make it even harder for U.S. President Donald Trump, who had been seeking rapprochement with Russia for months, to reject the new Russia sanctions, the Senate also attached the new Russia sanctions to a bill imposing sanctions on Iran.

On the eve of the U.S. Senate has approved an amendment to expand sanctions against Russian Federation.

The administration fears that the sanctions, passed on a 98-2 vote Thursday, will tie its hands in dealing with Moscow, Politico reports, citing a senior White House official.

Asked where Tillerson stood on the legislation, Corker said he wasn't sure, but noted that the bill "strikes a great balance" between executive and legislative power.

'For too long, the message to Vladimir Putin has been that Russia can invade its neighbors, threaten USA allies, intensify its cyberattacks, and interfere with foreign elections with very little repercussion, ' said Senator John McCain, a strident critic of the Russian leader.

Senate Democrats expressed concerns to Politico that the extremely busy news cycle related to the investigations surrounding Russian Federation and Trump may ironically allow the administration to block or stall this legislation created to punish Russian Federation.

Tillerson, who has said he wants to improve relations with Russian Federation, urged lawmakers Wednesday not to constrict the administration. The amendment was crafted by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), and Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). The sanctions targeted Russian energy products as well as "mining, metals, shipping and railways and".