US Senate sends Russian sanctions bill to Trump
The. Senate on Thursday, approved new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, that will now be sent to President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law.
While it's unclear whether Trump will veto the legislation, White House Communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Thursday the president "may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are, or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians".
The measures were passed passed by a vote of 98-2 and includes sanctions against Russian officials in retaliation for their alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, and against Iran and North Korea in response to their weapons programs.
The vote also amounted to a rebuke of Trump, whose administration had pushed to water down the bill's provisions giving Congress the power to veto the removal of sanctions, according to media reports.
Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, applauded the legislation, saying it sends a strong signal to Iran, Russia and North Korea that the U.S. will stand firm and united in the face of their destabilizing behavior.
"This bill ensures Congress will continue to play a leading role in defending the American people and our allies from these serious threats while providing the Trump administration appropriate national security flexibility," Corker said in a statement.
Speaking in Finland on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the possible sanctions as a "malicious step", claiming that it is "absolutely illegal from the point of view on international law.
"We will respond to the new possible sanctions against Russia according to the latest version of the bill evaluated by Washington," Putin said during a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
"We stand with patience in the face of the sanctions, but the time we will have to respond to this rudeness is closing," Putin added.