putin and trump helsinki Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

Getting Serious About Russia Sanctions

The US Congress is considering new legislation that would introduce a broader and potentially more effective range of sanctions against Russia than ever before. The main question now is how President Donald Trump will react to this attack on his most important foreign supporter.

KYIV – On February 13, a bipartisan group of US senators led by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Robert Menendez introduced legislation aimed at holding Russia accountable for its behavior. The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, or DASKAA, is a revised version of a similarly named bill that the two senators introduced in August 2018, but which Congress never adopted.

That first attempt came amid the uproar following the meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last July, when Trump appeared to side strongly with Putin against America’s own intelligence services on Kremlin interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Congress is right to relaunch the sanctions discussion now.

“DASKAA 2.0” is the result of several recent developments. Russian aluminum company Rusal has just been relieved of US sanctions, prompting jubilation on the Moscow stock market. The United States imposed no new sanctions after a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury, England, or in response to Russian aggression against Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait. More generally, the Trump administration has largely ignored many provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which Trump himself signed into law in August 2017.

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