Russian Retaliation for Sanctions Vote Begins

On Wednesday, I explained how a House vote on Russia sanctions, which included a provision that Donald Trump cannot rescind them without Congressional approval, was infuriating Vladimir Putin and prompting Russia to threaten retaliation.

Yesterday, the Senate also overwhelmingly passed the bill, with only two holdouts: Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders.

Now the bill goes to Trump's desk for signature — and even if he has the audacity not to sign it, it has a veto-proof majority in both houses of congress.

Putin is not happy, saying at a press conference, "It’s impossible to endlessly tolerate this kind of insolence towards our country," and openly threatening retaliation: "We are behaving in a very restrained and patient way, but at some moment we will need to respond."

That moment quickly arrived.

Neil MacFarquhar at the New York Times: Russia Seizes 2 U.S. Properties and Orders Embassy to Cut Staff.
Russia took its first steps on Friday to retaliate against proposed American sanctions for Moscow's suspected meddling in the 2016 election, seizing two American diplomatic properties and ordering the United States Embassy to reduce staff by September.

...In its statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the United States Congress had voted to toughen sanctions. "This yet again attests to the extreme aggressiveness of the United States when it comes to international affairs," the statement said.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin, said the Russian leader had signed off on the measures despite saying a day earlier that he would wait for the final version of the law before taking any such steps.
To be clear, that's a message to Trump. Here's our move after the Senate passed this thing. It was escalate if you sign it.

Remember: Konstantin Kosachyov, chair of the international affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said publicly after the House vote that Russia's response should be "painful for the Americans." Seizing diplomatic properties is a big deal, but I wouldn't describe it as "painful."

The pain is yet to come if Trump signs. Or if his veto is overruled.

And there's no way out from under it, short of removing Trump from office. These are the consequences of pretending that the sitting president isn't owned by the foreign adversary who interfered to elect him.

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