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8/1/17

Russia-US Sanctions: U.S. lawmakers’ attempt to handcuff Trump on Russia could backfire, Europe says - by Michael Birnbaum

A top E.U. leader warned Wednesday that a U.S. congressional vote to strip President Trump of the ability to remove sanctions against Russia could backfire, dealing a blow to transatlantic efforts to curb Russian aggression against Ukraine and sparking a trade war between Europe and the United States.

The House of Representatives approved the measure Tuesday, 419 to 3, after the Senate passed similar legislation last month in a 98-to-2 vote. The White House has not indicated whether Trump will sign the bill.

The bill’s main goal is to force Trump to consult with Congress before dialing back sanctions, a reaction to a White House plan weighed in his first weeks in office to unilaterally end the measures against the Kremlin. But the legislation would also give Trump the power to ban investments in certain Russian energy projects, most notably a major Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline under development called Nord Stream 2, and to promote U.S. energy exports instead.

The legislation’s language was softened in the days ahead of the vote, in apparent acknowledgment of European worries. But many policymakers and experts in the European Union’s capital, Brussels, and in Berlin still say that Congress may ultimately harm its own effort to pressure Russia. The worries are also a measure of the Trump White House’s diminished standing in Europe, since the policymakers are mistrustful of U.S. natural-gas exports that were welcomed during the Obama administration.

Read more: U.S. lawmakers’ attempt to handcuff Trump on Russia could backfire, Europe says - The Washington Post

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