Thursday, 3 August 2017

Europeans may respond to Russia sanctions with counter-sanctions against America

Trump: Newly signed Russia sanctions law ‘seriously flawed’


Trump: Newly signed Russia sanctions law ‘seriously flawed’
© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

RT,
2 August, 2017


US President Donald Trump says the Russian sanctions law he signed into force is "seriously flawed" and includes unconstitutional provisions that usurp presidential authority.

"Today, I have signed into law HR 3364, the 'Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.' While I favor tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed," Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

In its haste to pass the legislation, Congress "included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions," Trump said.

FILE PHOTO © Jonathan Ernst


The biggest problem with the bill is that it "encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate," which will make it harder for the US to strike good deals and will "drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together," according to the president.


"Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking," Trump said, taking a dig at last week's failed, unrelated attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The deciding vote against the repeal bill was Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), a major supporter of the anti-Russian sanctions.

"Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity," Trump said. "It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary."

Trump had little option but to sign the bill, as both legislative chambers passed it with veto-proof majorities. The Senate approved it by a vote of 98-2 on July 27 and the House of Representatives voted 419 to 3 in favor the day prior. If Trump had chosen to veto the bill, both chambers had more than the two-thirds votes necessary to override it.

Although he could have allowed the bill to become law by neither signing nor vetoing it, such inaction would have precluded a signing statement, which drew bipartisan condemnation on Capitol Hill.

Trump’s interpretation of the sanctions bill “raises serious questions about whether his administration intends to follow the law, or whether he will continue to enable and reward Vladimir Putin’s aggression,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said in a statement.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), who played a key role in crafting the sanctions bill, also expressed concern about the signing statement.

Look, whether it was President [George W.] Bush, President [Barack] Obama, or President Trump, I’ve never been a fan of signing statements,” said Gardner, according to Politico. “I think they’re a way for any president to usurp the role of the legislative branch. And that’s why I’ve always been concerned, regardless of who issued them, on any matter.”

Moscow has already responded to the sanctions, ordering the US to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people.


The newly-signed sanctions law has placed a “heavy toll” on relations between the US and Russia, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian Federation Council has said. He told RT that “the consequences of the implementation of this law will surely be felt in the US-Russian relations for years or even for decades.”


He also said the law completely deprives the US sanctions policy of any flexibility as “any changes in it [aiming at] its liberalization would be possible only through making amendments to the law.”

Kosachev also said the law puts Trump into “subordinate position” in relation to Congress “for the first time in the history of the US presidency.”

By signing the sanctions bill into the law, Trump “openly admitted that he is weaker than Congress in the field of the sanctions policy and is unable to counter it,” Kosachev said, adding, that Trump apparently “just gave up.”

Speaking about the actions of the Congress, the Russian senator said that Trump’s adversaries managed to rally other lawmakers and reach bipartisan consensus, with Trump effectively unable to exercise his presidential powers. 

Now, they are seeking to “either make him a ceremonial president or to provoke him to take actions that could serve as a formal trigger for his impeachment.”

We are ready': If US sanctions hurt European interests, EU can react ‘within days’ – Juncker


‘We are ready': If US sanctions hurt European interests, EU can react ‘within days’ – Juncker
© Global Look Press


RT,
2 July, 2017


Europe will come up with an “adequate” response and “within days” if the newly-signed US anti-Russian sanctions law hurts the interests of European companies working with Russia, European Commission Head Jean-Claude Juncker has warned.

European interests should be always taken into account when it comes to enabling new US sanctions, Juncker said in an interview to the German ARD-Europastudio Brussel.

We must defend our economic interests even against the US. And that is what we are going to do," Junckersaid.

FILE PHOTO © Jonathan Ernst


We are ready,” he added, pointing out that EU reserves the right to take retaliatory measures in case its interests are violated. He also drew attention to the fact that the newly-signed US law can have “unpredictable” consequences for the EU in the field of energy security.


The new US sanctions can affect EU efforts to diversify its energy supply, particularly in the Baltic region, the European Commission head warned.

Nevertheless, he expressed hope that the US would still take Europe’s interests into account by saying “the US Congress stated that these sanctions should be imposed only in consultation with the US allies” and he “assumes” that the EU“is still a US ally.”

Juncker recalled his own statements made during the G-7 meeting in Italy and G-20 meeting in Germany that the EU would be ready to respond within a short period of time in case the US imposes new unilateral sanctions against Russia.

Pointedly though, he reaffirmed the EU commitment to the policy of sanctions against Russia and said that unity and close cooperation in the field of such policy between the G7 countries is necessary to facilitate the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, which stipulate principles for a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crisis.

Earlier Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed into law the bill which imposes new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea and which limits his ability to ease sanctions without approval from Congress.

© Alexey Druzginin / Anton Denisov / Russian Presidential Press Office




Both Chambers of the US Congress voted with veto-proof majorities to approve the bill which seeks to punish Russia over a raft of American perceived 'transgressions', including its support for the Syrian government, alleged support for the rebels in Ukraine, as well as Crimea’s accession to Russia and Moscow’s purported meddling in last year’s US election.


Following the bill’s approval by the House and Senate last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the US would have to cut its embassy staff in Russia by 755 people by September and said Moscow would also seize several buildings used by US diplomats.

After Trump signed the bill into law, the Russian envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said Russia will not “bend or break” over US sanctions and will not change its policy. He said that Moscow will, however. continue to look for ways to cooperate with the US on issues such as Syria.

Despite it all, Trump signed what he himself termed “significantly flawed” legislation while warning that it would “hinder our important work with European allies.”



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