On Friday, the White House announced that US President Donald Trump would sign legislation imposing new #sanctions on #Russia, Iran, and North Korea into law.

Support across the aisle

The legislation, which would turn temporary sanctions placed against Russia in response to their 2014 invasion of Crimea into permanent law, received almost complete support in both American houses of Congress. It passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 419-3 and the Senate on a vote of 48-2.

The near unanimous support from Congress symbolizes the distrust of Russia by both Democrats and Republicans. It also suggests, as Olga Oliker, Ph.D.

Advertisements
Advertisements

and director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies pointed out, that lawmakers are wary of President Trump’s decision-making rationale when it comes to Russia.

Trump has publicly made known at every stage of his political career his admiration for Vladimir Putin. At a G-20 summit earlier this month [VIDEO], Trump and Putin had a secret meeting that put US-Russia watchers on edge. According to a statement from White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, the #trump administration officially supports the Russian claims that it did not interfere in the 2016 elections.

Russia Reacts

Before the new law has even been inked, Russia has already launched a counterattack. It has demanded the expulsion of nearly 700 Russian-based US officials and the closure of American offices in Moscow.

Advertisements

To some, this represents a delayed response to the expulsion of the 35 Russian diplomats carried out by the Obama administration in December after allegations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections were substantiated. Initially, Putin said that he would not respond to such "irresponsible kitchen diplomacy,” instead preferring to wait for friendlier relations with the Trump administration.

The signing into law of sanctions and Russia’s response are indications of Putin's opinion that Trump has ostensibly failed.

Can we just be friends?

Sanctions are normally not turned into legislation, as this allows them to be adjusted flexibly as the offending country of government adjusts its own behavior. However, now that these sanctions are being enshrined into US law, the Russia policy of the United States will become just as difficult to adjust.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said, “near unanimous votes for the sanctions legislation in Congress represent the strong will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.”

Whether or not officials in the Kremlin will respond to the will of the American people remains to be seen.