Donald Trump signs Russia sanctions bill into law

US President Donald Trump has reluctantly signed legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, calling it “seriously flawed”, Deutsche Welle reports.  Russia said the bill was akin to a “full-scale trade war.”

The package of financial sanctions against Russia was signed by Donald Trump on Wednesday, several White House sources said.

Shortly after signing the bill, Trump issued a statement saying it remained “seriously flawed” and hindered his ability to negotiate.

“By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia and North Korea much closer together,” Trump said, adding that he signed “for the sake of national unity.”

The bill, which also included increased sanctions against Iran and North Korea, had enough support in Congress to override a presidential veto.

In relation to Russia, it mainly targets the country’s energy sector. It includes a provision making it more difficult for the US president to remove sanctions against Russia. That is viewed as a sign of mistrust from the Republican-controlled Congress, as Trump has long made his desire for improved relations with Moscow clear.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the sanctions ended any hope of improved relations with the US. In a Facebook post, Medvedev claimed “Trump’s administration has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way,” before adding that the measures amounted to an “all-out trade war against Russia.”

In his statement, Trump said his administration had worked with Congress to make changes to the bill including incorporating feedback from European allies who had been concerned the sanctions could impact German, Austrian or other European companies involved in the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday told German broadcaster ARD that the US had taken some of the bloc’s concerns into account. But, he reiterated the position that the EU was ready to take counter measures “within days” if the US sanctions harmed European companies.

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