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Trump exacerbates confrontation with Russia

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017 | World News

Until last he had doubts, but he bowed to Congress. US President Donald Trump has agreed with a tightening of sanctions against Russia. Moscow is announcing retribution – and Europe is also threatening the USA.

Trump signed a law to extend the punitive measures. The US is heading for the Kremlin, which had sharply criticized the plans. The President was under considerable pressure because of the draft law. But he finally bowed to Congress. He said the law contained "serious errors". He had, however, signed it because it was in the interest of national unity.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate had passed the draft last week with an overwhelming majority. MEPs also made sure that the President can not lift sanctions against Russia without the Congress's approval. In this way, they withdraw a little bit of power from the president. Trump disrupts this.

  Over the past few days, Russia had reacted angrily to the plans and demanded the withdrawal of numerous US diplomats. Criticism also came from the Federal Government and the European Commission. They fear negative consequences for European companies.

US President Donald Trump, despite his own doubts, gives "green light" for new sanctions against Russia. (Source: dpa)

 The new sanctions are directed against important Russian industries, including the central energy sector, which is central to Moscow. The Kremlin is to be punished for its role in the Ukraine conflict as well as the presumed influence on the US election. The sanctions, which have existed since 2014, are to be extended, new ones being imposed on Russia's support for the Syrian government.

Also punishment for Iran and North Korea
The law also provides for new punitive measures against Iran and North Korea. Iran's sanctions are about the ongoing dispute over the country's missile program. In the case of North Korea, sanctions are aimed at the shipping industry in the country.

Trump said on Wednesday that he was in favor of punishing the governments of Tehran and Pyongyang for their "bad behavior." He also wanted to make Russia clear that the US did not tolerate interference in the democratic process. But he was concerned about the law because it curtailed the powers of the executive, discriminated against American companies and plagued the interests of European allies.

In his statement, the President also passed an attack on the Congress. He told the MEPs that they had failed to reach agreement on a reform of health care. Now they limited their possibilities to negotiate with other countries. "The creators of our constitution have put foreign policy in the hands of the President, this law will prove the wisdom of this decision."

The tightening of sanctions is a great success for Congress. Observers see at the same time an alienation between Trump and his party. Democrats, as well as Republicans, are throwing too much proximity to Russia. Trump was in a pinch: If he had blocked the law, this could have been interpreted as a concession to the Kremlin. Ultimately, the Congress would have been able to achieve a veto with a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

Russian politicians criticized Trumps's action on Wednesday sharply. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described the sanctions as equal with a full-fledged trade war. On Facebook, he wrote, "This is the hope of improving our relationships with the new US government." The relationship will be damaged for decades, Konstantin Kossachev, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, also wrote on Facebook. Since Trump agreed to the law, he was personally responsible for it. "The US does not allow a constructive cooperation with Russia," says Kossachev.

EU to react
The Kremlin had announced a reprisal before the signing of the law. President Vladimir Putin demanded on Sunday evening that 755 employees of the US representations in Russia had to adjust their work.

Federal Minister of Economics Brigitte Zypries (SPD) criticized Trumps for signing the sanctions. She wrote in a guest contribution in the "Wirtschaftswoche" about the punitive measures, which include the energy sector: "Energy imports and energy exports must never be a political or economic weapon . "

Federal Minister of Economics Brigitte Zypries. (Source: dpa)

The EU Commission had also interrupted the plans last week and threatened counter-measures. On Wednesday, however, it was said that they wanted to wait. From the perspective of Brussels, European interests could be taken into account when implementing the sanctions, a spokesperson for EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. It is only in the event that this does not happen that measures are taken. If American punitive measures would specifically penalize European companies involved in the energy sector with Russia, the EU would be prepared to react adequately within days.

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