US: Lawmakers bring new legislation with "hard-hitting" Russia sanctions package
The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) waiver is intended at preventing US sanctions on countries like India.
A day after the US Congress passed a bill that seeks to provide waivers to America's strategic partners like India from punitive sanctions for doing business with Russia, proponents of such a move today introduced a new legislation with a new "hard-hitting" Russia sanctions package.
New Delhi is planning to buy five S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia for around USD 4.5 billion.
The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018 is a comprehensive legislation that would increase economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Russia in response to its alleged continued interference in US polls, malign influence in Syria, aggression across Eastern Europe and other destabilising activities, they said.
Introduced by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Senators Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez, Cory Gardner, Ben Cardin and Jeanne Shaheen, the bill proposes a series of new sanctions on political figures, oligarchs and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It seeks sanction on transactions related to investment in energy projects supported by Russia's state-owned or parastatal entities, prohibition on and sanctions with respect to transactions relating to new sovereign debt of the Russian Federation and sectoral sanctions on any person in the Russian Federation that has the capacity or ability to support or facilitate malicious cyber activities.
The introduced legislation also has a requirement for Secretary of State to submit a determination of whether Russia meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. It seeks a prohibition on licenses for United States persons to engage in activities relating to certain projects to produce oil in Russia.
It also proposes the set up an Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy within the Department of State to lead diplomatic efforts relating to international cybersecurity, Internet access, Internet freedom, the digital economy, cybercrime, deterrence and responses to cyber threats.
"This bill would build on the strongest sanctions ever imposed on the Putin regime for its assault on democratic institutions, violation of international treaties, and siege on open societies through cyberattacks and misinformation campaigns," McCain said.
"Our goal is to change the status quo and impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin's Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyber-attacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria," Graham said, adding that the current sanctions regime has failed to deter Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 midterm polls.
"The sanctions and other measures contained in this bill are the most hard-hitting ever imposed – and a direct result of Putin's continued desire to undermine American democracy," Graham added.
The US Congress has passed a defence spending bill that seeks to amend an existing law to provide waivers to America's strategic partners like India from punitive sanctions against those doing business with Russia's defence industry.
The Senate passed the conference report on the National Defense Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 87 to 10.
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