Moscow calls it ‘se­ri­ous step’ to­ward wreck­ing chances of im­prov­ing ties

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — The US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives voted over­whelm­ingly on Tues­day to slap new sanc­tions on Rus­sia and force Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to ob­tain law­mak­ers’ per­mis­sion be­fore eas­ing any sanc­tions on Moscow, in a rare re­buke of the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent.

Rus­sia’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter said on Wed­nes­day that it is a “se­ri­ous step” to­ward wreck­ing chances of im­prov­ing ties.

“What has hap­pened goes be­yond the realms of com­mon sense,” Sergei Ryabkov told state-run TASS news agency.

“The au­thors and spon­sors of this bill are tak­ing a very se­ri­ous step to­ward de­stroy­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties for nor­mal­iz­ing re­la­tions with Rus­sia.”

But for now Moscow ap­pears to be keep­ing its pow­der dry as it waits to see how Trump re­acts.

“We are not giv­ing in to emo­tions,” Ryabkov said.

“We will work to look for ways to move ahead, per­sis­tently and con­sis­tently search­ing for ways to com­pro­mise of is­sues im­por­tant to Rus­sia and the US.”

It was un­clear how quickly the bill would make its way to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto. The bill still must be passed by the Se­nate, which is mired in de­bate over ef­forts to over­haul the US health­care sys­tem as law­mak­ers try to clear the decks to leave Wash­ing­ton for their sum­mer re­cess.

The sanc­tions bill came as law­mak­ers in­ves­ti­gate al­leged med­dling by Rus­sia in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year and po­ten­tial col­lu­sion by Repub­li­can Trump’s cam­paign.

Moscow has de­nied it worked to in­flu­ence the elec­tion in Trump’s fa­vor, and he has de­nied his cam­paign col­luded.

The White House said the pres­i­dent had not yet de­cided whether he would sign the mea­sure. Re­ject­ing the bill — which would po­ten­tially ham­per his hopes of pur­su­ing im­proved re­la­tions with Moscow — would carry a risk that his veto could be over­rid­den by law­mak­ers.

“While the pres­i­dent sup­ports tough sanc­tions on North Korea, Iran and Rus­sia, the White House is re­view­ing the House leg­is­la­tion and awaits a fi­nal leg­isla­tive pack­age for the pres­i­dent’s desk,” said spokes­woman Sarah San­ders.

EU con­cerns

House mem­bers backed the bill, which also im­poses sanc­tions on Te­heran and Py­ongyang, by a near-unan­i­mous mar­gin of 419-3, with strong sup­port from Trump’s fel­low Repub­li­cans as well as Democrats, de­spite ob­jec­tions from Trump, who wanted more con­trol over the abil­ity to im­pose sanc­tions.

The bill had raised con­cerns in the Euro­pean Union, where US al­lies de­pend on sup­plies of Rus­sian gas.

On Tues­day, Trump’s sonin-law, Jared Kush­ner, spent three hours with the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­tel­li­gence panel, his sec­ond straight day on Capi­tol Hill an­swer­ing ques­tions about his con­tacts with Rus­sians dur­ing the cam­paign.

Kush­ner, who is now a top aide in Trump’s White House, said on Mon­day he had no part in any Krem­lin plot. .

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