Trump to Sign Bill Imposing New Sanctions on Russia, White House Says

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump talking during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg

The United States will be forced to cut hundreds of its embassy staff in Russian Federation, the Interfax news agency quoted a source as saying, after Moscow retaliated on Friday for what it said were proposed illegal U.S. sanctions against it.

The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crime from Ukraine. Putin also argued that "Russian-US relations are being sacrificed to resolve questions of domestic politics", specifying that "in this case, it is the battle between President (Donald) Trump and his political opponents".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has given mixed answers on whether Trump will sign the bill. But late Wednesday he announced that he sees "a path forward on legislation to sanction Iran, Russia and North Korea" following "very productive discussions".

The European Union also raised concerns about the new sanctions bill, saying the Russian Federation sanctions could harm European businesses which could be subject to penalties for doing business with Moscow.

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Putin said at the time that he would wait to see how Trump handled the issue before responding, and Trump praised his restraint. It also said it was barring the U.S. embassy from using a Moscow summer house and storage facility in the city from Aug 1.

At the end of 2016, President Obama cited USA findings that Russian Federation had meddled with the recent presidential election when he expelled members of Russia's diplomatic corps and issued sanctions on Russia's mining and oil industry.

Putin described the sanctions bill now working its way through US Congress - which calls for new measures against Russia, North Korea and Iran, and limits Trump's ability to alter them - as "illegal under worldwide law" and warned that Russia might have to respond. Trump's communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, had suggested Thursday that Trump might veto the bill and "negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians". If passed, the bill would be sent to the White House for Trump to sign or veto.

"Russia reserves the right to resort to other measures affecting US interests on a retaliatory basis", it added.

The sanctions package imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The White House has given mixed messages about whether Trump will sign the legislation at a time when his presidential campaign is under investigation over possible collusion with Moscow.

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The legislation puts Trump in a hard position. "And we want to make sure that they're tough sanctions and that they're durable sanctions".

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".

Thirty-five Russian diplomats were expelled from the United States in December under sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama in response to Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 USA election. "And now these sanctions - they are also absolutely unlawful from the point of view of worldwide law".

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