US Senate backs sanctions on Russia over US election hacking

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 28, 2014. Russia’s president says Ukraine could regain some arms and equipment of military units in Crimea that did not switch their loyalty to Russia. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to punish Russia over its alleged election meddling, passing a bill that would bar President Donald Trump from unilaterally easing existing sanctions on Moscow.

The vote at a time of high tension in Washington over the Russia scandal was 97-2.

The proposal was included in an amendment that must still win definitive approval from the Senate and from the House of Representatives. It would make congressional approval necessary if Trump seeks to suspend or ease sanctions imposed on Russia over its apparent cyberattacks during the 2016 US election campaign.

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This new bill would also give sanctions imposed by then president Barack Obama via an executive order the full force of law. The sanctions target the Russian energy industry in particular.

The legislation would impose new sanctions against “corrupt Russian actors,” “those involved in serious human rights abuses”, Russians providing arms to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or those engaged in cyberattacks on behalf of the government.

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