Putin - early to speak about retaliation against new U.S. sanctions: agency

Lindsey Graham

The Russia sanctions measure was added as an amendment to an Iranian sanctions bill, after a deal was struck between the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking Committees.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the sanctions package.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Banking Committee, said the legislation expands the Ukraine-related sanctions to ban Western companies from being involved in Russian energy exploration projects in the Arctic and elsewhere. Then it will be brought before US President Donald Trump, who will have to either sign or vetoit.

The Trump administration reportedly is weighing the return of Russian compounds on US soil seized by the Obama administration, and the president has repeatedly expressed a desire for better relations with Moscow while downplaying the impact of Russia's cyber activities.

However, he would have to reject new sanctions against Iran, which he supports, to derail the latest congressional effort to punish Russian Federation.

These sanctions have been added to a bill - under debate and nearly certain to win passage - aimed at toughening sanctions against Iran for what the bill calls its support of global terrorist acts.

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"We moved to make the Congress, not the President, the final arbiter of sanctions relief when necessary", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. House aides said they expected the chamber would begin to debate the measure in coming weeks.

Bill gives Congress powers to block Trump from rolling back any penalties. They blocked USA companies such as Exxon Mobil, where Tillerson was chairman, from investing in such projects.

"I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation", Tillerson told lawmakers Wednesday. "I have no idea" if the White House is adequately concerned about Russian intervention in last year's election, Corker added, but "hopefully the White House will acknowledge" the massive level of Senate support for new sanctions against Russia.

The bill also includes new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile programme and other activities not related to the global nuclear agreement reached with the United States and other world powers. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and other lawmakers.

Mueller is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

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