US Senate adopts amendment on more sanctions against Russian Federation

In a 98-2 vote on Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a series of sanctions to punish Russian Federation for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Senate signalled it's ready to expand sanctions against Russian Federation amid a probe into its meddling in the United States presidential election, and to let Congress review any move by President Donald Trump to lift existing penalties.

Following yesterday's vote on an amendment adding substantial sanctions against Russian Federation to the bill, the Senate today voted to pass the bill, which was designed primarily to impose a number of new sanctions on Iran for "non-nuclear" moves that the Senate objects to. The sanctions are in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, cyber-attacks and interference in elections and continuing aggression in Syria.

The new Russian Federation sanctions also requires the White House to get a congressional review if it attempts to relax, suspend or terminate Russian Federation sanctions.

The measure calls for strengthening current sanctions and imposing new ones on a broad range of people, including Russians engaged in corruption, individuals in human rights abuses and anyone supplying weapons to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The measure flew in the face of President Donald Trump-who has both steadfastly called for better relations with Moscow and denied it had meddled in the election that saw him rise to power last year-now faces a hard decision on whether or not to sign the bill.

House and Senate committees are investigating Russia's meddling and potential links to the Trump campaign.

The two senators who voted against the measure were Republicans Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah).

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

The Iran bill, including the Russian Federation sanctions amendment, was expected to pass the Senate on Thursday or later on Wednesday.

Some of the sanctions were originally proposed by Barack Obama's administration, while others are new, but they are all meant to punish the Russian government for what USA intelligence agencies say was an effort to damage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by leaking embarrassing emails.

"What I wouldn't want to do is close the channels off", Tillerson told a Senate committee.

The Russia amendment include provisions to limit transactions and exports, put into law existing punishments laid out by the Obama administration and condemn the country's interventions in Ukraine and Syria.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the overwhelming passage of the measure "sends a strong signal to President Vladimir Putin while ensuring the Trump administration has the flexibility it needs".

  • Larry Hoffman