US Senate passes bill toughening anti-Russian sanctions

 US Senate passes bill toughening anti-Russian sanctions

The US Senate has passed the bill toughening the country’s unilateral sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. 

The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Only senators Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul voted against the sanctions bill.

Since it has passed through both chambers, the document titled "Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act" will be sent to President Donald Trump. The White House has recently said that Trump favors toughening of restrictions against these countries, though he will take a decision after revising the final version of the draft law.

"He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians," White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN.

If Trump chooses to veto it, the bill is expected to garner enough support in both chambers to override his veto and pass it into law. Republicans and Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to the election allegations.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said that “it won’t matter what President Trump decides” given Congress’s overwhelming support for the sanctions, the New York Times reported.

The head of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Moscow Humanitarian University, Nikolai Platoshkin, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that the new bill does not aim to tighten sanctions against Russia, its main task is not to allow Donald Trump to repeal the previous restrictions. "As soon as the Americans move to concrete actions against European energy companies, which are interested in importing Russian gas, they will have big problems, as it was in 1983, when Europe retaliated, in 2002, and so on," the expert explained.

He drew attention to the fact that Europe's retaliatory measures would not be painful for Trump, but for congressmen, because American companies acting as lobbyists and sponsors of US legislators would suffer from it. "Then Trump will laugh, asking the deputies to explain to the voters why they took measures that led to the loss of jobs in the United States," the head of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Moscow Humanitarian University believes.

"In addition, the US does not like Iran's criticism of the policy of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, which suffers from a terrible humanitarian catastrophe. And the war that led to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been started by Saudi Arabia. Iran, on the contrary, actively opposes it," Nikolai Platoshkin concluded.

The head of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Academy of Sciences of Russia, Sergei Oznobishchev, said that Moscow, of course, will give an answer to the tightening of the sanctions regime. "Perhaps, it will touch upon issues of diplomatic property, restrictions on the stay of an embassy stuff.  The right to leave Moscow will be limited for diplomats, a request is needed to travel outside Washington already now. All this will be strictly regulated," the expert noted.

However, he pointed out, such a disunity will benefit no one. "It is impossible to solve the global problems of our time individually. The situation in any sphere - security or economy - would be different if we cooperated. If we worked together, if there was a common goal, then there'll be fewer casualties in Syria. This was not the case since the Cold War. And in the days of the Cold War, mechanisms which prevented a direct conflict were already worked out. But now these developments have been lost," the head of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Academy of Sciences of Russia warned.

In general, according to the expert, Russia needs to prepare for difficult times. "Everyone hoped that the situation would change with Trump's coming to power. It turned out that, first, Trump's opportunities are limited, and second, he is not devoted to Russia. He understands perfectly that Russia and the US are competitors. That in the long term we must be partners and interact, which is recognized by Trump and his close circle," he said.

Oznobishchev added that, considering the retaliatory measures, it is necessary to take into account the scope of the opponent: at the moment both money and new technologies speak in favor of the United States.

"A broad cooperation is necessary, but sanctions are very serious, almost insuperable. Russia has 7-8 years to keep up with the rest of the world. Are we going to engage in the search for retaliatory measures, sanctions and other things when the whole world is ready for cooperation?" Sergei Oznobishchev lamented.


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