On June 15, 2017, the United States Senate voted almost unanimously (98-2) in favour of a comprehensive addition to the US Russia and Iran sanctions regimes. The proposed restrictive measures are intended to punish Russia over its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections, annexation of the Crimea and support for the Syrian regime. The new sanctions would target Russian energy projects, and impose new sanctions on Russian mining, metals, shipping, railways and on Russians guilty of conducting cyber attacks or supplying weapons to Syria’s government. The bill would also allow for sanctions against non-US entities supporting or investing in Russian “gas export pipelines”, including the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to the EU. The latter has already been condemned by US allies, such as Germany. Germany responded by indicating that; “Germany will retaliate against the US if new sanctions on Russia being proposed by the US Senate end up penalising German firms.” Tensions between Russia and the US seem to be rising, not only because of the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into the Trump campaign ties with Russian officials, but also after a US Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane. Russia responded by warning the US that US aircraft operating would be considered “air targets” for its forces in Syria. The bill does allow the US space agency NASA to continue using Russian-made rocket engines and the 100 senators voted unanimously for an amendment reaffirming the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance.
In addition to the newly proposed Russian sanctions, the bill also provides for new sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missile program and the engagements of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps. It remains to be seen whether the bill will, at least in its current state, be made law. In order for it to be turned into law, the bill will have to be adopted by the House of Representatives with a vast Republican majority and it will have to be signed by the President. At this point, it is yet unclear whether the bill, if at all, will be adopted before the summer recess at the end of July.
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