Russia warns US after House votes for new sanctions

This article is more than 12 months old

MOSCOW: Russia yesterday raised the prospect of retaliation after an overwhelming vote by the US House of Representatives to impose new sanctions left President Donald Trump facing a tough call.

The sanctions package, which also targets Iran and North Korea, "tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries in order to keep Americans safe", House Speaker Paul Ryan said after it passed on Tuesday by 419 votes to three.

It now heads to the Senate before Mr Trump faces the tricky choice of whether to veto the bill, which has been opposed by the White House and constrains his ability to lift the penalties.

The legislation is the result of a congressional compromise reached last weekend and is aimed at punishing the Kremlin for allegedly interfering in last year's US presidential election and intervening in Ukraine.

"Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has invaded its neighbour Ukraine, seizing its territory and destabilising its government," House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said, applauding the bill's passage.

"Left unchecked, Russia is sure to continue its aggression."

Moscow responded angrily to the vote, with deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov insisting Washington had been warned "dozens of times" that any new sanctions would "not go unanswered".

"The authors and sponsors of this bill are taking a very serious step towards destroying the possibilities for normalising relations with Russia," he told state-run TASS news agency.

Key among the provisions is one that handcuffs the US president by complicating any unilateral efforts to ease penalties against Moscow - effectively placing him under Congress' watch.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Teheran would respond in kind to any breach by the US of the 2015 nuclear deal after the vote.

The Iranian parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee said it would hold an extraordinary session on Saturday to discuss its response. - AFP

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