Russia Sanctions Are Bringing Us to a Brink

A brink of what is not yet clear. Although I think we have a good idea about some pretty dire scenarios. Here's why...

Richard Lardner at the AP/ABC: House Punishes Russia, Blocks Trump from Waiving Penalties.
Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, the House has overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits [Donald] Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress.

Lawmakers passed the legislation, 419-3, clearing the far-reaching measure for action by the Senate. If senators move quickly, the bill could be ready for Trump's signature before Congress exits Washington for its regular August recess. The Senate, like the House, is expected to pass the legislation by a veto-proof margin. The bill also slaps Iran and North Korea with sanctions.

The 184-page measure serves as a rebuke of the Kremlin's military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed President Bashar Assad. It aims to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.

"It is well past time that we forcibly respond," said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Trump hasn't threatened to reject the bill even though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior administration officials had objected to a mandated congressional review should the president attempt to ease or lift the sanctions on Russia. They've argued it would infringe on the president's executive authority and tie his hands as he explores avenues of communication and cooperation between the two former Cold War foes.

But Trump's persistent overtures to Russia are what pushed lawmakers to include the sanctions review. Many lawmakers view Russia as the nation's top strategic adversary and believe more sanctions, not less, put the U.S. in a position of strength in any negotiations with Moscow.

Trump's "rhetoric toward the Russians has been far too accommodating and conciliatory, up to this point," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.
In sum, Trump's behavior toward Russia has become so alarming that even Republicans now understand they have to do something about it — so they've enacted a safeguard to ensure he can't just unilaterally ditch the sanctions they've voted to impose on the nation who attacked our election process.

Putin is not going to be happy about sanctions designed to "hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him" by targeting, among other things, "crucial sectors of the Russian economy." He's going to be very angry, in fact. And he's going to be very frustrated that the Made in America presidential puppet he bought isn't doing his bidding.

And he's not being quiet about it.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Stepan Kravchenko at Bloomberg: Russia Warns of 'Painful' Response if Trump Backs U.S. Sanctions.
Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations.

The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and "don't leave room for the normalization of relations" in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday, according to the Interfax news service.

Hope "is dying" for improved relations because the scale of "the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time," Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said on Facebook. Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that's "painful for the Americans," he said.
Russia is just openly, publicly threatening to attack the U.S. in a way that is "painful" for the civilian population if our president doesn't do whatever they want (which is painful for us in a different way).

What is Trump going to do? Even if he vetoes the sanctions bill, it has a veto-proof majority and will likely get passed without his signature. Then what? Russia isn't going to care that the imposition of sanctions are out of Trump's hands.

Then what?

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