Senate GOP, Dems agree on new sanctions on Russian Federation

U.S. senators last night introducing a provision meant to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and for support for the government of Syria.

Four top lawmakers from the US Senate Banking Committee and the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced an agreement on Monday on "legislation to strengthen and expand current US sanctions on Russian Federation".

The bill would also require the president to seek congressional permission to relax the current regime of sanctions against Russian Federation, possibly limiting President Donald Trump's leeway to improve relations between Washington and Moscow.

It would impose new sanctions on Russians found to be guilty of human rights abuses, supplying weapons to Syria's government and conducting cyber attacks on behalf of Russia's government, among others.

The bipartisan agreement comes in the form of an amendment to legislation the Senate is already considering on sanctions for Iran.

The senators presented the deal as a separate Iran sanctions bill, under debate by the Legislature.

The American sanctions specifically target Russia's energy sector, which makes up more than half of the country's Gross Domestic Product.




A procedural vote on the Russian Federation sanctions is expected Wednesday, and the measure is expected to get strong bipartisan support. Sanctions in case of their adoption may relate to mining and metallurgical sectors of the Russian economy, as well as projects in the field of railway transport and shipbuilding, media reported.

Both proposals could be voted this week, a significant shift from last month, when the Republican leaders seemed reluctant to move forward on sanctions against Moscow. Sherrod Brown of the Banking Committee and Tennessee Sen.

"We think that is a fundamental policy shift for the United States that needs to be done in sunlight and therefore a review of Congress is urgent", says Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

It will also systematize previous sanctions put in place through executive orders by former President Barack Obama and allows the Trump administration to slap new economic sanctions on the Kremlin later on. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the top Senate Democrat.

The bill and its amendment need approval from the full Senate and the House of Representatives before heading to Trump's desk for final approval.

It's curious how little the Trump administration seems to care about this: "Russia's cyberattack on the US electoral system before Donald Trump's election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in nearly twice as many states as previously reported". Members of the US Congress seek to aggravate relations with Russia, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Committee for Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov told reporters.

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