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Senate slaps new sanctions on Russia; Putin vows retaliation

31 July 2017

Putin described the sanctions bill now working its way through US Congress - which calls for new measures against Russia, North Korea and Iran, and limits Trump's ability to alter them - as "illegal under worldwide law" and warned that Russia might have to respond.

Earlier on Thursday, a senior White House aide said Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew skepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill.

She says the president has "reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it".

The United States Senate has voted 98-2 to impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, despite objections from the White House. The sanctions measure has already passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 419-3. The bill will now be submitted to U.S. President Donald Trump to be signed.

A federal law enforcement investigation and multiple USA congressional probes looking into the possibility that Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation, have made it harder for Trump to open a new chapter with Putin.

Trump's desire, often expressed during the 2016 presidential campaign, to improve relations has been hamstrung by findings from USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation interfered to help the Republican against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The White House's rhetoric on the sanctions bill echoes that surrounding the president's controversial decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, which includes 194 countries.

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Russian diplomatic property was confiscated by the Obama administration in 2016, in response to alleged Russian meddling in the United States election.

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

State Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of Tillerson's statement.

".The election of the USA president, it is not our business, and it is not up to us to assess what he does in this very senior post, that's up to the U.S. public", Putin said.

Relations between Russian Federation and the United States dropped to a post-Cold War low following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting since 2014 has left 10,000 people dead.

Russia's ambitions to be on equal footing with the US suffered a setback in 2014 when the Obama administration authorized sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy, including financial services, energy, mining and defense. Mr. Trump's vow to extend a hand of cooperation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as sceptical lawmakers look to limit the executive power's leeway to go easy on Moscow over its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. McCain said the bill's passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug. The bill also punishes Iran and North Korea for their weapons programs. If Trump rejected the bill, Corker said, Congress would overrule him.

Senate slaps new sanctions on Russia; Putin vows retaliation