ARTICLE 118211804 Trump Signs---and Slams---Russia Sanctions english ARTICLE President Donald Trump signed into law a bill imposing sanctions on Russia to punish it for its interference in the 2016 U.S. election, even as he hit back at Congress by saying the legislation was “seriously flawed.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/president-trump-signs-sanctions-bill-aimed-at-punishing-russia-for-election-meddling-1501685839?mod=fox_australian /itemImage/118211804 Thu Aug 03 2017 08:04:01 GMT+0000 (UTC) paidpoliticsworldus world {}

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Trump Signs---and Slams---Russia Sanctions


The Wall Street Journal
75 d ago

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President Donald Trump signed into law a bill imposing sanctions on Russia to punish it for its interference in the 2016 U.S. election, even as he hit back at Congress by saying the legislation was “seriously flawed.”
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President Donald Trump appeared to echo Kremlin talking points Thursday morning when he tweeted that Congress was to blame for the US relationship with Russia being at an "all-time & very dangerous low."
"Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low," he said. "You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us HCare!"
Lawmakers replied that Trump's ire would be better directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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"Our relationship w/ Russia is at dangerous low," tweeted Republican Sen. John McCain . "You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies."
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner , the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had a similar response: "Or you could thank Russian dictator Putin, who hacked US election, undermines Western alliances, invaded Ukraine & annexed Crimea."
Trump's tweet came a day after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev used Twitter to denounce the veto-proof sanctions bill that Trump was essentially handcuffed into signing into law on Wednesday, appearing to challenge the president's ego by calling his administration weak while pinning the blame on Congress.
"The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way," Medvedev tweeted on Wednesday.
Jeremy Bash, the former chief of staff at the Defense Department and the CIA, predicted earlier this week that Trump's "bromance" with Putin would continue even if Trump signed the sanctions bill because Putin would know Trump was backed into a corner by Congress.
Medvedev seemed to acknowledge that on Wednesday, writing that Trump was "not happy about the sanctions" but "could not but sign the bill."
"The US establishment fully outwitted Trump," he said.
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As of Thursday, however, Trump still had not responded to Putin's demand that 755 diplomatic workers, many of them American, be cut from the US Embassy in Moscow and from US diplomatic missions in St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, and Vladivostok.
The cuts would be the steepest in nearly 100 years and would go much further than President Barack Obama's decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats from the US as punishment for Russia's election interference.
Ned Price, a former CIA analyst who served as a National Security Council spokesman and special assistant to President Barack Obama, called Trump's tweet on Thursday "inexplicable" and said it "does nothing more than reiterate what Moscow already knows: namely that Russia has a stalwart friend in the form of the President of the United States."
But Price said it was not the first time Trump "has parroted Kremlin talking points."
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Trump's attacks on Congress mark a bizarre turning point in the drama unfolding between the White House and the GOP-controlled House and Senate.
That battle has escalated in recent weeks amid the Senate's failure to pass a healthcare bill, and Trump has criticized Republicans for failing to protect him amid the intelligence committees' investigations into his campaign's contacts with Russia during the election.
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A provision in the new sanctions law requiring Trump to get congressional approval before altering or lifting sanctions on Russia has also been a major point of contention between the White House and Congress.
Trump, who has expressed lingering doubts that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, said shortly after signing the bill into law on Wednesday that "America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process," and he denounced "Russian subversion and destabilization."
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The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to renew and expand sanctions against Russia that were imposed after  Russia’s annexation of Crimea . The bill, however, could also have a negative impact on some European energy projects that are linked to Russian companies.
Since the initial bill was first approved by the Senate on June 15, the European Union has been lobbying US lawmakers to revise the proposed legislation and reduce its effects on third-party countries.
But lobbying is essentially all the EU can do at this point; it can’t hit back against the US because such a move would require approval from all member states, which is unlikely.
A heavy blow to EU companies involved in Russian energy projects
The initial version of the bill would have imposed sanctions against any foreign person or entity that has significant investments in certain Russian energy projects.
This means that even non-US companies involved with Russian businesses could be targeted.
It is this part of the bill that has drawn criticism from the EU, particularly Germany, because European companies are involved in several  energy projects  with Russian businesses.
EU efforts to convince US lawmakers to revise the bill have had limited results. According to media reports, they did manage to increase the percentage of Russian participation required in an energy project to qualify for sanctions from 10 to 30 percent.
But this still means that the sanctions could affect some functioning infrastructure projects like the Baltic LNG project (run by Shell and Gazprom), the Blue Stream pipeline (run by Italy’s Eni and Gazprom), CPC pipeline (run by Shell, Eni and Rosneft), and Nord Stream 1 (run by various European firms and Gazprom).
If these European companies decide to increase their level of investment in these projects, they can be penalized under the US sanctions bill.
The bill could also penalize companies involved in Nord Stream 2, a joint project between German and Austrian companies and Russia’s Gazprom. Nord Stream 2 will enable Russian gas to be delivered to Germany without using the existing pipeline that runs through Ukraine.
This project has been the subject of US criticism before. It would make it easier for Russia to cut off gas supplies to  Ukraine —without any subsequent effect on other European consumers—and allow Moscow to use energy as a tool to influence Kiev.
But Germany has a different perspective; it sees the project as another way to secure its energy needs, and it wants to protect the interests of German companies.
So, while the EU and Germany both oppose the US sanctions bill, they do so for different reasons. Germany has a direct interest in some of the projects that could be affected by the bill, while the EU just doesn’t want the US meddling in European affairs.
The EU is paralyzed
Imposing any measures  that could penalize US businesses operating in the EU would be difficult—all initiatives proposed by the commission need to be approved by the EU Council, which would require agreement from all member states, and this is unlikely.
So ultimately, the EU can do little to retaliate at this point. The bloc’s decision-making process and the level of bureaucracy involved prevent it from amassing a coherent response. And the ability of individual member states to respond independent of Brussels is restricted—as members of the common market, they can’t take action on a bilateral level against a third party.
Thus, agreement on how to proceed is required from across the bloc. But considering that  European states can’t agree on much these days , let alone their views on Moscow, it’s unlikely that they will come to an agreement on how to respond to the sanctions bill.
 
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