US president reluctantly signs new round of sanctions against Russia

World Today

FILE – In this July 7, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg. Trump signed on Aug. 2, what he called a “seriously flawed” bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, pressured by his Republican Party not to move on his own toward a warmer relationship with Moscow in light of Russian actions. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed into law legislation, imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

But even after signing it, Trump said the bill is seriously flawed, undermining his authority as President.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

President Trump made one public appearance Wednesday and it was not to sign the bill to sanction Russia’s defense and energy sectors, which also targets Iran and the DPRK. Instead, Trump released two statements on why a measure passed overwhelmingly by the U.S. Congress is, “seriously flawed, particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate. This bill… will drive China, Russia, and the DPRK much closer together.”

“The president favors tough measures to punish and deter the bad behavior of the rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea and he also sent a clear signal that we won’t tolerate interference in our democratic process by Russia,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The Trump administration came into office promising better relations with Moscow. But faced with a series of bipartisan investigations into ties between the White House and the Kremlin during his presidential campaign, and intelligence assessments that Moscow actively meddled in the 2016 presidential election, Trump had little choice but to support the sanctions.

“The action by the Congress to put these sanctions in place and the way they did, neither the President nor I are very happy about that. We were clear that we didn’t think it was going to be helpful to our efforts,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

No sooner had the measure passed Congress than Russian President Vladimir Putin expelled hundreds of American diplomats, and seized two U.S. compounds in Russia. The Kremlin appears to be losing hope of improved ties with Washington.

“Those who invented this bill, if they were thinking they might change our policy, they were wrong, as history many times proved. They should have known better, that we do not bend, we do not break,” Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia said.

But, Brussels is now on board, as the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said late changes made by the U.S. Congress allayed EU concerns that European companies doing business with Moscow might get penalized.

Congress will now have to review any White House effort to soften the sanctions going forward. But President Trump’s critics worry that his public stance against them could still weaken Washington’s hand when it comes to dealing with Moscow.

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