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US Senate OKs expansion of sanctions against Russian Federation

18 June 2017

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved new financial sanctions against Russian Federation on Wednesday for its interference in the 2016 presidential election and actions taken in Syria and Europe, according to media reports.

The US Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed tough sanctions on Russian Federation and Iran, sending the House of Representatives a bill that would prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally easing penalties against Moscow.

The bill, imposing another round of sanctions on Russian Federation, was passed in a 97-2 vote on Wednesday and is yet to be considered by the House of Representatives.

The sanctions against Russian Federation are "in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, its brazen cyber-attacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria", according to the sponsors.

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The package also would require a congressional review if a president attempts to ease or end current penalties. The legislation also allows new sanctions on Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways and targets Russians guilty of conducting cyber attacks or supplying weapons to Syria's government.

The Senate legislation imposes sanctions on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as the only two legislators voting against the new bill. These latest sanctions are in retaliation for Russia's interference in last year's presidential election.

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. But it seems likely to annoy the White House, which began looking into easing or lifting sanctions on Russian Federation just days after Trump was inaugurated.

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Now the bill should be considered in the House of Representatives, and then it will be handed over to President Donald Trump for signature.

"My expectation is that the White House will have positive things to say about what we've done", Cardin said.

"I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation that allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation", said Tillerson at a congressional hearing.

The 97-2 vote, which came as part of a broader debate over sanctions on Iran, marked a rare spot of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, who said they hoped it would be the beginning of more such deals.

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Earlier, Trump has indicated he is skeptical about additional sanctions and has been dismissive about the role of Russian interference in the USA elections.

US Senate OKs expansion of sanctions against Russian Federation