Russian Reaction to Follow if US Adopts Sanctions Bill

Jerome Frank
July 30, 2017

The ministry said the United States had until September 1 to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December.

Moscow has also suspended from August 1 use by the United States embassy in Russia of the warehouses in Dorozhnaya Street and the property in Serebryany Bor, the Russian foreign ministry said.

The bill now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump's approval.

Eager to punish Russian Federation for meddling in the 2016 election, the House has overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits President Donald Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he "very much regrets" the worsening of relations between Russia and the United States.

Russian Federation is also suspending the use of a USA storage facility in Moscow and a country house, or dacha, outside of Moscow by August 1.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also warned the United States it would respond in kind if Washington chose to expel any Russian diplomats.

The US Senate passed in a 98-2 vote a new version of a sanctions bill on Russia, Iran and North Korea, limiting President Donald Trump's ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow.

Some former officials said Russia could take other steps, such as seeking to help Russian-backed forces seize more ground in eastern Ukraine or to try to limit US air operations in Syria, while others said any reaction might be more muted.

The White House initially wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law.

A spokesman for the European Commission said Friday that European officials will be watching the US effort closely, vowing to "remain vigilant".

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Russian Federation told the United States on Friday that some of its diplomats had to leave the country in just over a month and said it was seizing some USA diplomatic property as retaliation for what it said were proposed illegal U.S. sanctions.

The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crime from Ukraine.

President Trump said Friday night he would sign the sanctions legislation because Congress was responsive to his input on the bill.

It would impose mandatory visa bans and asset freezes on any individual that undermines the cybersecurity of public or private infrastructure and democratic institutions. If senators move quickly, the bill could be ready for Trump's signature before Congress exits Washington for its regular August recess.

The European Union extended its economic sanctions on Russian Federation last month.

"Abandonment of the Nord Stream 2 project is spelled out in the text of the bill, but in fact, any project in the EU-Russian cooperation in the field of energy security ... may be subjected to sanctions, including pipeline fix work, on which EU energy security depends", Gernot Erler, a member of the Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs, was quoted as saying by the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Friday that it was now up to Trump to decide how to proceed.

"This is the rationale and the standard for our European sanctions, no more, but not less", he said.

He derided efforts to clarify any links between members of Trump's campaign staff and Moscow as "just the use of Russophobic tools in an internal political struggle, in this case the struggle between President Trump and his political opponents".

The possible new sanctions are likely to provoke a surge of serious tensions between the USA and Europe, according to Alexei Grivach, deputy head of the National Energy Security Fund and an expert with the Valdai discussion club.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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