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Senate Passes Amendment To Tighten Russia Sanctions For Meddling In US Election

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The US Senate Wednesday passed an amendment with overwhelming majority to strengthen and expand the current sanctions against Russia for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and destabilizing activities in other parts of the world.

The bipartisan amendment to the underlying "Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017", that would impose new, strong, and mandatory sanctions on Russia, was passed by a 97-2 vote.

The rare legislative action reflecting bipartisan unity comes amid reports that the Trump administration is considering easing sanctions on Moscow.

Multiple investigations are going on into the Trump campaign's alleged links with the Russian government to manipulate the US presidential election.

The vote on final passage is expected Thursday.

Following final passage, the House should follow suit, and the President sign the legislation into law to become effective.

The amendment includes important provisions that would impose comprehensive sanctions on Russia for its cyber intrusions, aggression, and destabilizing activities in the United States, Russia, Crimea and Ukraine. It also requires congressional oversight of any decision to ease sanctions on Russia.

The amendment codifies existing sanctions into law and makes them mandatory. It also imposes new sanctions on transactions with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors, including the agency primarily responsible for the attack on the U.S. election. In addition, new sanctions target the energy sector, which is controlled by President Vladimir Putin's henchmen, with sanctions on investments in Russian petroleum and natural gas development as well as Russian energy pipelines.

Any relief from these sanctions requires Russia to begin adhering to the Minsk Protocol, roll back its occupation of Crimea and destabilizing activities in Ukraine, and cease its cyber operations aimed at undermining democracy in the United States and Europe.

This legislation would authorize $250 million to support and strengthen democratic institutions in Europe against Russian propaganda and interference.

John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, "There is no greater threat to our freedoms than interference in our ability to choose our own leaders, and this amendment sends a message that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy."

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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