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US Senate votes to impose new sanctions on Russian Federation and Iran

19 June 2017

The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly Thursday, 98-2, more than five months after USA intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The measure, attached as an amendment to a broader bill dealing with Iran, firms up existing sanctions against Russian Federation and imposes new ones.

Besides financial penalties, the new sanctions would also target those involved in "malicious cyber activity", those who give weapons to Assad's government and operatives who work with Russian intelligence.

The measure calls for a mandatory congressional review if sanctions against Russian Federation are ever scaled back or terminated entirely.

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The White House has not said if Trump would sign or veto the legislation, which would have to be passed by the House of Representatives before it could go to the president's desk.

Russia's interventions in Ukraine and Crimea and its support of Assad in the Syrian war are the other stated reasons for the sanctions, aside from the hacking that United States intelligence agencies say Russian Federation engaged in aggressively with the alleged aim of helping Trump beat Hillary Clinton last November.

It is meant to punish Russian Federation over issues including alleged meddling in the election, annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, and support for the Government of Syria in that country's six-year-long civil war.

It's not clear how the pitch would be received by House Republicans, but Politico added the administration official says the White House is "confident it has allies in the House" who do not like limiting the president's powers. Besides, the document contains a provision that does not allow President Donald Trump to weaken or cancel the measures taken without the approval of the Congress. "I want to thank Senator Cardin, the committee's ranking member, for working in a constructive, bipartisan fashion to craft both components of this bill", continued Senator Corker.

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Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of the Senate bill's cosponsors, told reporters on Wednesday that the White House was already lobbying against the measure, Business Insider reported.

Senate approval of the bill comes more than five months after US intelligence agencies said Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

The Senate's Iranian sanctions legislation imposes new restrictions on Tehran's ballistic missile program, also aiming to punish Iran for supporting terrorism and human rights violations.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested Tuesday that the administration might oppose the Russian Federation sanctions amendment.

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Existing US sanctions imposed by the Obama administration have hurt Russia's economy, but haven't moved the Kremlin on policy, according to Saradzhyan.

US Senate votes to impose new sanctions on Russian Federation and Iran