Trump to Sign Russia Sanctions Package into Law, Inciting Moscow's Anger

Trump to Sign Russia Sanctions Package into Law, Inciting Moscow's Anger

The bill, mirroring one passed Tuesday by the House, now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.

He added that the U.S. president seems to have little choice but to approve the Senate sanctions, as if he tries to veto the bill, the decision will be overturned by United States lawmakers.

U.S. and Russian flags hung at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 28, 2017.

The first sanctions were put in place under previous President Barack Obama in the wake of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 by Russian Federation, for violating the territorial integrity of neighboring Ukraine.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a short statement confirming only that it had received the notification from the Russian Foreign Ministry and that it was sending the orders to Washington for review.

It also imposes financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea.Sen.

The US is set to cut its diplomatic staff by 200-300 after Moscow told the US embassy it wanted a maximum of 455 in the country by 1 September.

While the U.S. side has not commented on the issue so far, the Western media rushed to ask Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova to give the number of USA diplomatic staff.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Minister Sergei Lavrov has told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call that Moscow was forced to respond to the new package of USA sanctions and that it is still willing to improve ties with Washington.

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That vote-the culmination of a lengthy process that saw the sanctions initially approved in the Senate, then held up in the House, and later rewritten after substantial objections-now clears the way for the bill to proceed to the President's desk. The U.S. ambassador, John Tefft, had expressed "his strong disappointment and protest", the statement said.

Most US diplomatic staff, including around 300 US citizens, work in the main embassy in Moscow, with others based in consulates in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

The sanctions came months after the Obama administration ordered the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds and expelled 35 Russian diplomats in response to alleged hacking of the US Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

It also blocked access to the USA diplomatic staff to a dacha in Serebryany Bor on the northwestern outskirts of the city and to a warehouse used by the embassy.

As the danger of an escalatory tit-for-tat grows, mechanisms meant to prevent US-Russian confrontation have been breaking down, analysts said.

The North Korea sanctions are created to punish the country for its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

Germany and Austria in recent weeks criticized the planned penalties, saying they could affect European businesses involved in piping Russian natural gas.

"The near unanimous votes for the sanctions legislation in Congress represent the strong will of the American people to see Russian Federation take steps to improve relations with the United States", Tillerson said.

A cornerstone of the sanctions bill bars Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russian Federation unless Congress agrees.

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