Trump Signs Sanction Law, Russia Retaliates


US President Donald Trump has signed into law a legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, after he was overwhelmed by majorities in Congress.

Russia has retaliated by expelling more than 755 US diplomats and seizing a compound belonging to America.

Trump signed into law the new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, a White House official has confirmed. The move is in contrast with his frequently stated desire to improve relations with the country.

The sanctions bill targets Russia’s mining and oil industry, and aims to punish the country for interfering in the 2016 presidential election as well for its military aggression in Ukraine.

The US Congress voted last week by overwhelming margins for sanctions to punish the Russian government over interference in the 2016 presidential election, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and other perceived violations of international norms.

Trump, who has made clear he wanted to improve relations with Russia, grudgingly accepted the new congressional sanctions, which also included Iran and North Korea.

The bill had enough support in Congress to override a presidential veto. Trump’s signing of the bill followed some conflicting signals from the administration in recent days about the sanctions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Tuesday that he and Trump did not believe the new sanctions would “be helpful to our efforts” on diplomacy with Russia.

Vice President Mike Pence said that the bill showed Trump and Congress were speaking “with a unified voice.”

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed the signing during an interview with Fox News.

Trump’s desire for better relations with Moscow has been hamstrung by findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to help the Republican against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

US congressional panels and a special counsel are investigating the allegations. Moscow denies any meddling and Trump denies any collusion by his campaign.

The Russian rouble weakened slightly following the initial report that Trump had signed the bill.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced retaliation for the sanctions; the U.S. has to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 people by Sept. 1.

“It’s impossible to endlessly tolerate this kind of insolence towards our country,” Putin said of the sanctions at a news conference on July 27. The bill also applies new sanctions to Iran and North Korea.

Notwithstanding the multiple investigations and the cloud Russian interference has cast over Trump’s presidency so far, the two leaders have seemed to be developing a friendly relationship. (Reuters/NPR/NAN)

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