There is no doubt that a Russian phobia is sweeping the US Congress, partly fuelled by forces which are inimical to the president Donald Trump. He must be the first president who is getting his wings clipped. The passing of the Russian sanctions bill is a slap in the face of the White House as it will limit the ability of the US president to lift or dilute the sanctions. Behind the sanctions is the antipathy to Donald Trump and that is no laughing matter.

President Obama had taken action against the so called Russian interference in the US presidential election when he expelled 35 Russian diplomats and seized two compounds used by the Russians for recreation and other uses.

At that time Vladimir Putin had refrained from retaliating and had said he would wait for the new president. But with the passage of fresh Sanctions Against Russia and it being equated with Iran and North Korea, the Russians have reacted. CNN International reported this news.

Putin and retaliation

The number of American diplomats has been reduced by 35 and the US dacha and storage facility in Moscow have been taken away from 1 August. US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft has voiced his "strong disappointment and protest" over Moscow's decision. Obviously, he has nothing to say about the action of Obama. Vladimir Putin on a visit to Finland in a joint conference regretted the deterioration of US-Russia relations but said that Russia will respond.

He condemned the sanctions as violating global trade and freedom of commerce.

The Russian action was expected and it was naïve that they would not react. One has a lurking feeling that many in Congress do feel that Trump is sympathetic to Russia. Many have voiced their opinion about the Russian connection and a congressional investigation is on.

This has resulted in the son-in-law of Donald being questioned by the committee.

Donald in a bind

Donald is alive to the situation and he must have realized that at the back of the Russian sanctions is a plan to make him a lame duck president. In a way, he is right that a "witch hunt” has been launched and many in Congress are building up a Russian hysteria.

This is a dangerous road but in its efforts to limit Trump and clip his wings Congress is going ahead with these sanctions. Even if the President vetoes the bill, the bipartisan support the sanctions enjoy will nullify the veto.

Last word

Congress will be well advised that in its efforts to get to Trump, passing sanctions against Russia is perhaps not the best of roads to follow. Trump is now fighting with his back to the wall and with the intelligence agencies firmly against Russia, the chance that he can escape unscathed looks remote.