US senate passes bill to block Trump on Russia sanctions, Putin says unjustified

US senate passes bill to block Trump on Russia sanctions, Putin says unjustified

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WASHINGTON: The bill, which is an amendment to another bill on sanctions on Iran, passed in a 97-2 vote. It will now be taken up by the House of Representatives before it goes to Trump to be signed into law.

The US Senate passed a legislation with near unanimity on Wednesday that proposes new sanctions against Russia and seeks to prevent the Donald Trump administration from watering down or removing those embargos already in place.

The bill, which is an amendment to another bill on sanctions on Iran, passed in a 97-2 vote. It will now be taken up by the House of Representatives before it goes to Trump to be signed into law.

The legislation creates a congressional review mechanism to be triggered by any move by the administration to ease or change the sanctions that were imposed by former President Barack Obama in retaliation for Russian annexation of Crimea.

The new sanctions seeks to punish Russia for its role in Syria and the meddling in US elections in 2016.

Charles Schumer, leaders of the Democrats in the Senate, said, “This administration has been too eager, far too eager in my mind, to put sanctions relief on the table. We cannot let Russia’s meddling in our elections go unpunished, lest they ever consider something similar again.”

American allies Germany and Austria have reacted angrily to a portion of the new sanctions that proposes continued opposition to an under-sea pipeline bringing gas from Russia to Germany, which is partially funded by a consortium comprising Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, French Engie, OMV of Austria and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall.

Putin: Sanctions made Russia stronger

Russia has climbed out of recession despite continuing Western sanctions, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, adding that the restrictions have forced the country to “switch on our brains” to reduce its dependence on energy exports.

Speaking in a live call-in show televised nationwide, Putin termed the US Senate’s decision to impose new sanctions on Russia as a reflection of Western efforts to “contain” Russia, but insisted that the measures only have made the country stronger.

Putin argued that Russia has done nothing to warrant the Senate’s move. “It’s evidence of a continuing internal political struggle in the US,” he said.

Russia has responded to the US and EU sanctions by halting most Western food imports, a move that has helped increase Russian agricultural output.

Russian farmers have pleaded with the Kremlin to keep the import ban even if the West lifts its sanctions, but Putin said that if “our partners lift the sanctions against our economy, we will respond in kind.”__Hindustan Times

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