Senate passes sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran, N.Korea
Washington: The US Senate has passed a sweeping legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea with an overwhelming majority despite the objections of President Donald Trump, who must now decide whether to sign or veto it, the media reported.
The bill, which gives Congress new powers to block Trump from easing sanctions against Moscow, passed the Senate 98-2 on Thursday.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday had voted 419-3 to approve the text of the bill, which would impose additional sanctions on Moscow for its presumed interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as for its military activity in eastern Ukraine and its 2014 annexation of the Crimea.
The measure also proposes sanctioning Russians implicated in human rights violations and cyberattacks, along with individuals who have supplied weapons to the Syrian government.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President would review the sanctions bill but she did not clarify whether Trump would sign or veto the measure.
"We'll review that and let you know what we do," she told reporters on Thursday night outside the White House.
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin labelled the new legislation as anti-Moscow hysteria born as a result of internal political struggles in Washington, reports Efe news.
"It is primarily an anti-Russian hysteria that aims to use feelings against Russia for national politics, the struggle between President Trump and his political opponents," Putin told a news conference.
Putin said it was regrettable that relations between Russia and the US had deteriorated, as this affected cooperation in the fight against terrorism, conflict resolution and the ability to combat organised crime and protect the environment.
He said if the US were to impose new sanctions on Russia it would be an act of "exceptional cynicism".
Putin stated, "As you know, our behaviour is very restrained, patient, but at some point we will have to come up with a response. It is impossible to endlessly endure impudence towards our country."
He added the extraterritorial nature of the legislation was unacceptable and harmful to international relations and international law.