Bill stiffening sanctions on Russia will be signed

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump shake hands during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit

If it passes the Senate as expected, the bill would be the first major foreign policy legislation approved by Congress under U.S. President Donald Trump, who has struggled to advance his domestic agenda despite Republicans controlling the Senate and House of Representatives.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill would address the failure so far to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for what he described as a "stunning breach" of a sovereign nation's elections.

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Friday announced counter measures in response to tough new sanctions proposed by the United States, ordering Washington to reduce its diplomatic staff.

Following the 419-3 vote in the House, the Senate today passed the new bill sanctioning Russian Federation with a similar overwhelming margin, 98-2.

The legislation bars Trump from easing or waiving the penalties on Russian Federation unless Congress agrees.

Having passed through both chambers, it will be sent to President Trump to sign into law. "The Senate will move to approve the Iran and Russian Federation sanctions it originally passed six weeks ago, as well as the North Korea sanctions developed by the House".

Before Mr Trump's decision to sign the bill into law, Republican senator John McCain said its passage was long overdue, a jab at Mr Trump and Republican-controlled Congress.

Corker is already planning to tie Trump's hands on North Korea just like the Congress is about to do on Russian Federation. Trump has repeatedly argued for better relations with Moscow, despite several investigations into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.

If the president signs the legislation, it could put a dent in his stated desire to work constructively with the Kremlin. The Senate now plans to approve the House version of the bill, which includes a North Korea provision added in the House, under an agreement finalized Wednesday.

Putin, who has repeatedly denied USA allegations that Russian Federation interfered with last year's US presidential election, said Moscow would only decide on how to retaliate against Washington once it had seen the final text of the proposed law.

The U.S. was Russia's third-largest trading partner in 2016 with exports and imports valued at $25.6 billion, though that's still only about five percent of Russia's overall trade.

"The countries could overcome more critical problems by taking joint action", Putin said.

But the European Union has also expressed concern about the sanctions, fearing that they might adversely affect its energy security.



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