The US Senate has overwhelmingly passed an amendment to strengthen and expand the current sanctions against Russia, sending a “strong” signal to President Vladimir Putin over territorial violation in Crimea, alleged meddling in elections and aggression in Syria. In a rare moment of bipartisan unity, the Senate voted 97 to two to approve the sanctions, with only Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky voting against. To take effect, the measure would also have to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by President Donald Trump.
The amendment to the underlying Iran sanctions bill maintains and substantially expands sanctions against the government of Russia in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, its brazen cyber-attacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria. “With overwhelming Senate passage of the Russia sanctions amendment, the US sends a strong signal to President Putin while ensuring the Trump administration has the flexibility it needs,” said Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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“The Russian government continues to violate the sovereignty of Ukraine, aggravate the crisis in Syria, and destabilise democracies around the world. This amendment makes clear that we will not continue to tolerate such actions, and I am glad we are one step closer to passage of our legislation to hold Iran accountable,” he said. “This amendment is also an important step as we continue its efforts to reassert congressional authority,” Corker said.
Democrats and many Republicans have been pushing for the Senate to adopt a new Russia sanctions measure in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections and after reports the Trump administration is considering easing sanctions on Moscow. “Time and again, the Obama administration abused its executive authority to bypass Congress, and this legislation ensures that Congress – both now and in the future – will be able to weigh in on behalf of the American people,” Corker said.