Tags: Russia | economy | forex | US | sanctions | Obama

Obama Will Sign Russia Sanctions Bill

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 05:50 PM

President Barack Obama will sign into law a bill passed by Congress to tighten sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, the White House said Tuesday, amid a dramatic run on the ruble.

"The president does intend to sign the bill," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, while adding "it does preserve the president's flexibility to carry out this strategy."

The Congress on Saturday unanimously approved the Ukraine Freedom Support Act in both houses, which includes fresh sanctions against Moscow over its support of the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday branded the new sanctions as hostile.

The measures hit Russia's defense and energy sectors with conditional sanctions against firms that sell or transfer military equipment to the territory of Ukraine (as well as Georgia, Moldova and Syria), with the goal of stopping the flow of weapons to separatists across the border.

The new sanctions would come at a moment when Moscow is in economic turmoil as a result of plunging oil prices. The ruble crashed to an unprecedented low on Tuesday, trading at 80 rubles to the dollar.

Obama has consistently reiterated it would be a mistake to take unilateral U.S. action without coordinating with Washington's European Union allies.

Earnest admitted, however, the new sanctions passed by Congress, which could be signed by Obama this week, risked sending a "confusing message" to U.S. allies.

"It includes some sanctions language that does not reflect the consultations that are ongoing," Earnest said.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki echoed those concerns, while noting that the legislation also allows Obama to waive the sanctions as appropriate.

"It also still remains the case that Russia has a choice to make," she said. "They have an off-ramp. And they've long had an off-ramp.

"If they choose to implement the Minsk protocols, then certainly there's an opportunity to change the course of the sanctions that we've put in place," she said, referring to a cease-fire agreed to Sept. 5, but which failed to stop the fighting.

Washington welcomed reports that violence had "decreased significantly over the last few days," Psaki said, calling it a "positive sign."

© AFP 2019

   
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President Barack Obama will sign into law a bill passed by Congress to tighten sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, the White House said Tuesday, amid a dramatic run on the ruble. The president does intend to sign the bill, spokesman Josh Earnest told...
Russia, economy, forex, US, sanctions, Obama
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2014-50-16
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 05:50 PM
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