US Senate slaps new sanctions on Russia; Putin vows retaliation

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he "very much regrets" the worsening of relations between Russia and the United States.

The Senate vote followed the passage of a House bill earlier this week to punish Russia, Iran and North Korea for various violations by each of the three USA adversaries.

The sanctions measure has already passed the House of Representatives by a 419-3. It is expected to garner strong support in the Senate, despite concerns about it from Trump.

Last week, after House and Senate leaders announced an agreement on sanctions, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the incoming White House press secretary, suggested that Trump would sign the final package. If the bill obtains enough bipartisan support among lawmakers, however, Congress would be able to override a veto.

According to Bloomberg, the cyberwar between the USA and Russian Federation is presently the worst of its kind.

At the end of December 2016, after receiving intelligence information that Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in the US elections through hacking attacks, then US President Barack Obama imposed sanctions against Russia's intelligence apparatus. Investigations into alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia have tied the USA president's hands in terms of trying to change policy with Moscow, Russian officials say.

Republicans and Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to conclusions by USA intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the election.

The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after the Ukraine crisis.

The bill, which now heads to the Senate for consideration, would require the president to submit for congressional review any proposed actions to terminate or waive sanctions against Russian Federation.

Although Trump has repeatedly spoken of a desire for improved relations with Russian Federation, the electoral interference allegations have prompted Democrats and Republicans to unite in support of tougher sanctions.

Putin said on Thursday that Russian Federation had been "restrained and patient" in response to what he said were constant provocations by the United States.

The administration has at times demonstrated a willingness to take a tougher tack against Russian Federation via sanctions.

Earlier yesterday, a senior White House aide said Mr Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew skepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill.

"Technologically, this form is practically final", he said.

"As you know, we have been very restrained, but at some point you have to respond", news agencies quoted him as saying. "It's impossible to endlessly tolerate this boorishness towards our country".

"This goes beyond all reasonable bounds", Putin said.

"The cooperation of Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China in its entirety, including the military component, is a critical element of global security and stability", Putin said.

  • Joey Payne