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Putin decries 'anti-Russian hysteria' in US

29 July 2017

The White House has said Trump is still evaluating the bill and supported strong sanctions against Russian Federation, though tougher sanctions would likely strain the relationship with Moscow which Trump had been seeking to improve.

During a trip to Finland, Mr. Putin said USA sanctions passed by the House of Representatives and expected to be approved by the Senate this week would force the Kremlin to respond.

President Donald Trump, who has spoken out against that portion of the bill, has expressed skepticism over the allegations of Russia's interference in last year's vote.

The Kremlin had previously said that it would not impose any sanctions on the USA until Trump signs the bill.

Earlier on Thursday, a senior White House aide said Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew skepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill.

"These sanctions would have direct consequences for other countries, not even for Russia", Niinisto told a press conference following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He called the case all but a "battle between President Trump and his political opponents،" adding that "Russian-US relations are being sacrificed to resolve questions of domestic politics".

The Russian strongman criticised the probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, saying that he "does not see this as an investigation". The House, Senate and Justice Department are also investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to sway the election in their favour.

"To waive sanctions on Russia, Trump would have to send Congress a report explaining and justifying his decision, and lawmakers would then get 30 days to decide whether to allow it".

The rare bipartisan vote in the House overwhelmingly passed a set of measures meant to punish Russian Federation after the US intelligence community concluded Moscow tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

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"When the response comes, what it will be, that will depend on what the final version of the law, which is being debated in the Senate, will look like", Mr. Putin said, Russian news agencies reported.

The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after the Ukraine crisis.

Russian and European analysts say the sanctions reflect an ulterior motive whereby the European Union, denied access to Russian liquefied gas, will be forced to purchase energy products from the us instead.

The bill is expected to easily pass the Senate.

Although Trump has repeatedly spoken of a desire for improved relations with Russian Federation, the electoral interference allegations have prompted Democrats and Republicans to unite in support of tougher sanctions. But White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci suggested Trump in fact wanted stronger sanctions.

The administration has at times demonstrated a willingness to take a tougher tack against Russian Federation via sanctions.

An adviser to Russian Putin told Reuters that any tightening of the sanctions should not have a deeper impact but hope they would be lifted has faded. "That doesn't make any sense", said Edward Fishman, a former State Department official during the Obama administration who worked on USA sanctions policy.

"As you know, we are exercising restraint and patience, but at some moment we'll have to retaliate. It is impossible to constantly tolerate loutish behavior towards our country", he said. In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the decision to expand sanctions "yet again attests to the extreme aggressiveness of the United States when it comes to worldwide affairs".

"This goes beyond all reasonable bounds", Putin said.

Putin decries 'anti-Russian hysteria' in US