Donald Trump's White House may seek to water down Russian Federation sanctions

The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed tough sanctions on Russian Federation and Iran, sending the House of Representatives a bill that would prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally easing penalties against Moscow.

Geopolitical analyst Ian Bremmer, the CEO of the political risk firm Eurasia Group, tweeted Thursday: "Heard from Defense Min of a USA ally: Mattis & Tillerson said they make relevant policy decisions & ignore Trump because he's not in charge". Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said of the new legislation, according to Reuters.

"With passage of this legislation, the Senate reasserts congressional authority - while providing the Trump administration appropriate national security flexibility - and sends a clear signal to both Iran and Russian Federation that our country will stand firm in the face of destabilizing behavior and that Congress will play a leading role in protecting our national interests", added Senator Corker.

The bipartisan support for the year's most significant GOP-backed limitation on Trump comes as the White House remains silent on the plan to sanction Moscow, even as President Putin pushes back at USA intelligence officials' conclusion that Russian actors conducted cyberattacks to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the sanctions package.

Putin said that Russian Federation would be forced to make changes because of the sanctions, but they wouldn't lead to a "collapse".

Adopted overwhelmingly as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill, the measure targets Russia's cyber espionage entities, energy sector, financial interests, and the flow of Russian weaponry to war zones like Syria. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told Politico in an interview.

In another challenge to Trump's foreign policy, the measure also "reaffirm the strategic importance" of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The prepared remarks of Trump's speech reportedly included the line: "We face many threats, but I stand here before you with a clear message: the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and to Article 5 is unwavering".

The sanctions follow the scandalous departure of Michael Flynn as Trump's national security advisor. But this week, the Senate unanimously approved a measure from Republican Sen.

Sen. Lindsey Graham's resolution passed 100-0 after Trump waffled on his commitment to Article 5. Lindsey Graham that reaffirmed the importance of the U.S. commitment to the stipulation.

The Senate also passed two amendments before approving the bill.

"We must not allow this kind of interference in our elections become a normal process", said Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. "The Foreign Affairs Committee is reviewing the details in this latest sanctions package being voted on in the Senate, and after that we will determine a path ahead in the House".

  • Bernice Underwood