War of sanctions looms as Moscow retaliates against Washington

Aug 01, 2017, 22:47
War of sanctions looms as Moscow retaliates against Washington

Russian Federation has asked the U.S. to reduce its diplomatic staff by September 1 and has said it is seizing a dacha compound and warehouse used by United States diplomats in retaliation to new sanctions.

The announcement came the morning after Senate voted 98 to 2 for the legislation, which slaps new penalties on Russia and also limits Trump's ability to lift anti-Russian sanctions already in place.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he would retaliate if the bill against his country is signed into law. "That doesn't make any sense", said Edward Fishman, a former State Department official during the Obama administration who worked on US sanctions policy.

Asked about the potential for additional sanctions against Washington, Mr Putin described the reduction in diplomatic staff as "painful" and said he now opposed further measures.

The US sanctions package, which also targets North Korea and Iran, was approved overwhelmingly in the House on Tuesday.

Speaking earlier this week after the House passed the bill, top-ranking Republican Paul Ryan said it "tightens the screws on our most unsafe adversaries in order to keep Americans safe".

This bill is likely to become law even if President Trump vetoes it, because the overwhelming support in both chambers guarantees a veto-proof majority.

The legislation is aimed at punishing the Kremlin for allegedly meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election, and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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This was reported by The Hill on Wednesday night.

Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to US intelligence agencies' findings of Kremlin interference in the election campaign. A similarly lopsided vote is expected in the Senate.

Former press secretary Sean Spicer, who resigned his post earlier this month, said last month that Trump was still reviewing the possible sanctions but that the administration had concerns about Congress eroding the administration's authority to determine such actions.

The vote margins in the House and Senate suggest lawmakers could override a presidential veto if Trump tosses aside the legislation.

"We are behaving in a very restrained and patient way, but at some moment we will need to respond", said Putin.

"This goes beyond all reasonable bounds", Putin said.

Russia will give a "mirror response" should the United States introduce new unilateral measures to cut the numbers of Russian diplomats in the country. "And now these sanctions - they are also absolutely unlawful from the point of view of worldwide law".