Trump reconciled to signing Bill to beef up Russia sanctions

Mr Putin (left) and Mr Trump.
Mr Putin (left) and Mr Trump.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump intends to sign legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate strengthening sanctions on Russia and giving Congress the power to block him from lifting them.

"President Donald J. Trump read early drafts of the Bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it," the White House said in a statement released on Friday.

"He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the Bill and intends to sign it."

Passage of the sanctions legislation prompted sweeping retaliation from Russia, which ordered the US to slash hundreds of embassy employees in the country.

The Russia sanctions in H.R. 3364 are an unusual signal of disapproval of Mr Trump from congressional Republicans, reported Bloomberg. Lawmakers said they wanted to prevent the President from acting on his own to lift penalties imposed by the previous administration for meddling in last year's US election and for aggression in Ukraine.

House and Senate committees and the FBI are examining possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The White House had been sending mixed signals on whether Mr Trump would force a showdown with Congress over the Bill, which also imposes new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, arguing that it hampered his ability to negotiate. But the legislation cleared both the House and Senate by wide margins, indicating any presidential veto would be overridden.

The White House had been sending mixed signals on whether Mr Trump would force a showdown with Congress over the Bill, which also imposes new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, arguing that it hampered his ability to negotiate.

But the legislation cleared both the House and Senate by wide margins, indicating any presidential veto would be overridden.

The tougher sanctions and the Russian reaction threatened to cast the two nuclear-armed powers into a new spiral of tensions even as relations are already at their lowest point since the Cold War.

For Mr Trump, the worsening conflict poses a dilemma between his oft-stated desire to build ties with Russia and mounting congressional opposition to that effort.

The sanctions target human- rights abusers, suppliers of weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and those undermining cyber security, among others, reported The New York Times.

The sanctions against Iran, modelled on previous executive orders, were designed to punish entities that support terrorism, sell weapons to the country, or help its ballistic missile programme.

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

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 30, 2017, with the headline 'Trump reconciled to signing Bill to beef up Russia sanctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe