Russian Federation sanctions: Trump's hand forced by Senate vote

Putin says Russia will respond to insolence of US sanctions

Russia had originally threatened the ouster of diplomats and seizure of property in December after the USA ordered 35 Russian envoys out of the US and seized two embassy compounds outside NY and Washington in protest of alleged Russian meddling in the election.

"The passage of the new law on sanctions shows with all obviousness that relations with Russian Federation have become hostage to the domestic political battle within the USA", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement announcing the moves.

The bill, which includes a provision that allows Congress to stop any effort by Trump to ease existing sanctions on Russian Federation, will now be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto.

The latest move by the Kremlin strikes another blow against the already dismal diplomatic relations between the two sides, with each new step moving Moscow and Washington further from the rapprochement anticipated a few months ago. "There is a high probability that this will not be the end of it".

US Senate gives okay to sanctions on three nations
The US also expelled 35 Russian diplomats and denied Russian diplomatic staff access to the NY and Maryland compounds. Embassy's use of two sites - a storage facility and a dacha on an island in the Moscow River.

Moscow had initially hoped that Trump would work to fix a relationship which has slumped to a post-Cold War low, but has watched with frustration as allegations that Moscow interfered with last year's U.S. presidential election and concerns over Trump associates' Russian Federation ties have killed off hopes of détente.

External arenas, however, are a different matter.

With near unanimous support in both chambers of Congress, this legislation sends a strong signal to Iran, Russia and North Korea that USA will stand firm and united in the face of their destabilising behaviour, said Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly denied the conclusions of USA intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered using cyber warfare methods, has threatened retaliation against the legislation. It passed the House earlier this week in a bipartisan 419-3 vote.

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Wednesday's USA stockpile report marked an inflection point because inventories fell below year-ago levels, she said. Gasoline stocks fell by 1 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations for a 614,000-barrel drop.

"President Donald J Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a late-night statement. The legislation specifies that President Trump can't ease the sanctions without congressional approval.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a short statement confirming only that it had received the notification from the Russian Foreign Ministry and that it was sending the orders to Washington for review. Russia gave the United States until September 1 to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December because of the alleged election hacking.

In addition to the embassy in Moscow, the United States has consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg.

It wasn't immediately clear how many US personnel would have to leave under the new order. There are hundreds of staff members in Russian Federation, including workers constructing an embassy building in Moscow. Russian Federation will also close down the embassy's recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

U.S. imposes more sanctions on Iran in response to space launch
Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Friday denied Tehran had missiles created to carry nuclear warheads. The US had intelligence that the launch was coming and it was not a surprise, according to the official.

Putin said on a visit to Finland on Thursday that Russian Federation was "exercising restraint and patience, but at some moment we'll have to retaliate".

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