Sending the right message to Russia, Trump

Vladimir Putin Russian president

The US Senate in Congress voted almost unanimously on Thursday to impose new sanctions against Iran and Russian Federation, setting up a possible confrontation with the Trump administration as it attempts to improve relations with Moscow.

Seibert said it was "strange" that sanctions meant to punish Russian Federation for meddling in the USA elections could also lead to penalties against European companies.

Legislation passed by the Senate on June 15, which included tougher new sanctions against both Russia and Iran, aimed at punishing Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and making Tehran pay a price for its "continued support of terrorism".

In a statement Monday, the panel's top Democrat, congressman Eliot Engel of NY, says he's anxious the White House will attempt to weaken the bill.

"Republican leadership should bring it straight to the floor without delay so the House can vote on it and send it to the president's desk", Engel said in a statement.

In January, a report created by the FBI, CIA and NSA concluded Russian Federation had intentionally hacked the US presidential election in order to prop up Trump and "denigrate" Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

The legislation would give Capitol Hill a much stronger hand in determining Russian Federation sanctions policy.

President Trump has previously suggested that he might lift the current sanctions against Russian Federation in order to facilitate a better dialogue between the US and Russian Federation.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has offered only lukewarm support for the bill.

The White House is concerned that the new sanctions are a hurdle to Trump's attempts at getting Moscow to cooperate with Washington on several fronts, Politico reported Saturday, citing a senior administration official. This will include both maintaining existing sanctions and imposing additional ones in response to Russia's illegal activities. The Senate conducted this vote while four congressional committees are investigating Russia's election interference and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

He added that Chancellor Angela Merkel shared the concerns raised by the German and Austrian foreign ministers who charged in a joint statement that the US measure brings a "completely new, very negative dimension into European-American relations". The Senate has not acted on the legislation, however.

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