Tillerson Allows for Russia-Ukraine Peace Deal Outside of Minsk Accords

18 Juin, 2017, 10:55 | Author: Claudine Rigal

Officials in Tel Aviv and the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday denied remarks by Tillerson a day earlier before the U.S. Senate that the Palestinians had agreed to stop a long-standing policy of providing financial support to the relatives of individuals involved in attacks against Israelis. And, penalties would be slapped on those responsible for malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government.

Tillerson, testifying in a hearing on Capitol Hill with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the State Department's budget, said the Palestinian Authority plans to end that practice. The bill also prohibits lifting any executive sanctions imposed on Russian Federation by the Obama administration without congressional review.

Because the United States has no trade with the North, its strongest way to impose economic pressure is through "secondary sanctions" that threaten companies from third countries with losing access to the USA market if they deal with Pyongyang. The package is to be added to a bill imposing penalties on Iran that the Senate is now debating.

So the White House would have to reject stricter punishments against Iran, which it favours, in order to derail the parts of the legislation it may object to. Citing alleged Russia's "interference" in the 2016 presidential election in the United States, as well as the situations in Crimea and in Syria, the senators say they want new sanctions imposed on Moscow.

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"I haven't heard much from Mr. Tillerson, and what I've heard from him hasn't satisfied my concerns", Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters. "Members of both the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations made it clear that the budget Congress puts forward is likely to look quite different from the administration's proposals..."

But not all Senate Republicans are carrying Trump's water on this one. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a separate probe. And if the president doesn't sign this bill to punish Russian Federation, he would be betraying democracy.

Mr. Tillerson previously has said the USA would maintain sanctions against Russian Federation until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented, and Washington and European allies have always been united in demanding so. Lawmakers who backed the measure also cited Russia's aggression in Syria and Ukraine. That measure reflected Republican complaints that Obama had overstepped the power of the presidency and needed to be checked by Congress.

Crapo says Russia's President Vladimir Putin has become increasingly belligerent, nationalistic and autocratic.

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