Congress Passes Sanctions on Russia, Now Heads to Trump

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Congress Passes Sanctions on Russia, Now Heads to Trump

US President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation slapping punitive sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea that the Congress approved this week, the White House has said.

"Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it", spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The legislation, which also punishes Iran and North Korea, takes aim at Moscow for meddling in the 2016 USA election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

"We continue to support strong sanctions against those three countries, and we're going to wait and see what that final legislation looks like and make a decision at that point", she told reporters.

And Putin has an unlikely ally in his argument that the bill is misguided: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who argues European firms will sustain collateral damage from the penalties.

The Kremlin had previously said it would hold off from responding until the sanctions became law.

Russian President Vladimir Putin answers questions at a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Savonlinna, Finland, on Thursday.

The Russian foreign ministry also said it was seizing holiday properties and a warehouse used by USA diplomats.

It also said it was barring the US embassy from using a Moscow summer house and storage facility in the city from August 1.

"Under the absolutely invented pretext of Russian interference in their domestic affairs the United States is aggressively pushing forward, one after another, crude anti-Russian actions".

"We reserve the right on other mutual measures, which can affect U.S. interests".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told United States counterpart Rex Tillerson that Moscow remained ready to work with Washington.

It was not immediately clear how many USA diplomats and other workers would be forced to leave either the country or their posts, but the Interfax news agency cited an informed source as saying "hundreds" of people would be affected.

"However, this is possible only on the basis of equality, mutual respect and a balancing of interests", the ministry statement added.

She further spoke about how Brussels could react to the new anti-Russia sanctions, saying that back when there were sanctions imposed against Cuba by the U.S., they had an extra-territorial effect but the European Union united together to counter those effects.

The punishment announced by Moscow closely resembled punitive measures announced by then President Barack Obama in December.

But the Kremlin's hopes for better relations under Trump haven't materialized as the probes of alleged Russian meddling in the USA vote have widened in recent months.

The outgoing Obama administration seized two Russian diplomatic compounds - one in NY and another in Maryland - at the same time as it expelled the Russian diplomats in December.

This bill came although Trump administration officials had called on lawmakers to grant "flexibility" to the White House in dealing with Russian Federation.

The legislation, could put strain on Trump's ability to improve ties with Russia, which he has vocally pursued, but has been restrained by the allegations that his associates had contacts with Russian officials during the election campaign.

Moscow is already the subject of tough USA sanctions over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for a bloody insurgency in the country.

The Kremlin had previously said it would not impose any sanctions on the USA until Trump signs the bill.

The bill also restricts the United States president's ability to unilaterally lift or ease sanctions, forcing him to seek Congressional approval. Russian Federation will also close down the embassy's recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

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