Moscow and EU warns US over new Rus­sia sanc­tions

While Moscow and Tehran raise prospect of re­tal­i­a­tion over fresh puni­tive mea­sures; the EU says it is ‘ready to act to pro­tect Euro­pean in­ter­ests’ if US leg­is­la­tion hits deal­ings with Rus­sian en­ergy sec­tor

Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

Moscow, Rus­sia - Moscow and the Euro­pean Union hit out at the United States on Wed­nes­day af­ter an over­whelm­ing vote by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to im­pose new sanc­tions on Rus­sia left Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fac­ing a tough call.

The pack­age, which tar­gets Rus­sia, Iran and North Korea, ‘tight­ens the screws on our most dan­ger­ous ad­ver­saries in or­der to keep Amer­i­cans safe,’ House Speaker Paul Ryan said af­ter it passed on Tues­day by 419 votes to three.

It now heads to the Se­nate be­fore Trump faces the tricky choice of whether to veto the bill, which has been op­posed by the White House and con­sid­er­ably con­strains his abil­ity to lift the penal­ties.

While Moscow and Tehran raised the prospect of re­tal­i­a­tion over any fresh puni­tive mea­sures, the EU also warned it was ‘ready to act to pro­tect Euro­pean in­ter­ests’ if the leg­is­la­tion hit deal­ings with the Rus­sian en­ergy sec­tor.

The US bill was the re­sult of a con­gres­sional com­pro­mise aimed at pun­ish­ing the Krem­lin for al­legedly in­ter­fer­ing in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and in­ter­ven­ing in Ukraine.

Key among the pro­vi­sions is one that hand­cuffs Trump by com­pli­cat­ing any uni­lat­eral ef­forts to ease sanc­tions against Moscow in fu­ture - ef­fec­tively plac­ing him un­der Congress’s watch.

“Left unchecked, Rus­sia is sure to con­tinue its ag­gres­sion,” House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee chair­man Ed Royce said, ap­plaud­ing the bill’s back­ing.

Sanc­tions ‘will not go unan­swered’

De­spite ini­tially op­pos­ing the bill, Trump ap­pears to have few op­tions in the face of near-to­tal con­sen­sus in Congress, with a de­ci­sion likely due by mid-Au­gust.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said the White House was still ‘re­view­ing the House leg­is­la­tion and awaits a fi­nal leg­isla­tive pack­age for the Pres­i­dent’s desk’.

But even if Trump were to veto the leg­is­la­tion, Congress would likely be able to over­come such a block­age with a twothirds ma­jor­ity in each cham­ber.

Moscow re­sponded an­grily to the vote, with Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov in­sist­ing Wash­ing­ton had been warned ‘dozens of times ‘that any new sanc­tions would ‘not go unan­swered’.

“The au­thors and spon­sors of this bill are tak­ing a very se­ri­ous step to­wards de­stroy­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties for nor­mal­is­ing re­la­tions with Rus­sia,” he told state-run TASS news agency.

Ties be­tween Moscow and Wash­ing­ton have been at their low­est point since the Cold War since the US be­gan slap­ping sanc­tions on Rus­sia af­ter its an­nex­a­tion of Crimea in 2014.

Trump re­peat­edly pledged to im­prove re­la­tions dur­ing his cam­paign, rais­ing the prospect that he could roll back the Obama-era pun­ish­ments.

Since then, ac­cu­sa­tions from US in­tel­li­gence that the Krem­lin med­dled in the vote to get Trump elected have made any soft­en­ing of the stance on Rus­sia po­lit­i­cally toxic.

The bill also in­cludes fresh sanc­tions against Iran and its Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps, which stands ac­cused of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism, and North Korea, for its mis­sile tests, are also in­cluded. Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said Tehran would re­spond in kind to any breach by the US of the 2015 nu­clear deal af­ter the vote.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin with his US coun­ter­part Don­ald Trump dur­ing their meet­ing at the G20 con­fer­ence in Ham­burg, Ger­many, this month

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