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U.S. Senate supports sanctions against Russia citing occupation

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, December 20
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill imposing strict sanctions against Russia. Initiated measures are known as ‘Sanctions bill from Hell.’ The document also reads about Georgia and Ukraine.

The vote was 17-5 to advance the bill in the Republican-controlled committee. All five rejections came from Republicans, including the chairman Senator James Risch.

The legislation must pass the full Senate and House of Representatives before it can be sent for President Donald Trump to sign into law or veto.

The measure advanced on Wednesday, titled the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act and known as DASKA, was introduced in February by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel. Graham dubbed DASKA the sanctions bill 'from hell' because it would impose strict and broad penalties.

Targets of DASKA sanctions would include Russian banks that support efforts to interfere in foreign elections; the country’s cyber sector and new sovereign debt. It also would impose measures on Russia’s oil and gas sector.

Lawmakers have been pushing the president to take a harder stance against Russia over election interference, aggression toward Ukraine and involvement in Syria’s civil war.

According to the document, the US president should publicly call on Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine, stop supporting the violence in eastern Ukraine, to end occupation and support of Russian-led forces on the territories of Georgia and Moldova.

Georgia's Ambassador to the United States, David Bakradze, has commented on a bill that imposes tough sanctions on Russia.

Bakradze said the document may be amended, but the project, which is already available, shows that the United States legislature clearly understands the challenges in the region.

However, Bakradze says it is clear that Georgia has unequivocal and comprehensive support from the United States over the occupation.

“The word occupation was first voiced in 2017 in the United States Congress. Not in 2009, 2010 or 2011. So, we are realizing this issue, of course, that today there is no document dealing with the events, challenges in the region, and where Georgia does not have a very important place at the forefront of these challenges. That is why we see a very big, important and enhanced dynamic in this regard that implies the support of Georgia from the United States,” said Bakradze.

According to independent lawmaker Tamar Chugoshvili, the decision of the US political circles is to tighten the approach towards Russia and this is revealed in the form of tightening sanctions.

The head of the United National Movement Grigol Vashadze also commented on the issue:

“What Russia is doing to Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, Libya cannot go unnoticed by the leading power of the democratic world… It is an imperialist country that doesn’t care about anyone’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence and will never be in normal relations with any neighbor, distant or outsider,” said Vashadze.

He also noted that he has no hope Russia will ever refrain from repressive behavior.