Senators Seek "Crushing" Sanctions For Russia In New Bill

In the latest effort to punish Moscow over alleged election meddling, as well its role in both Ukraine and Syria, a bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate Thursday that seeks to be so far reaching that it's being widely described as "crushing".

Predictably, it has as sponsors such Congressional hawks as Senators Bob Menendez, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham — the latter which announced the bill's goal is to "impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the U.S. electoral process, halts cyber-attacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria," according a statement

Via Google News

According to lawmakers' statements, the Graham-Menendez bill introduces harsh new restrictions on sectors ranging from energy and oil projects to uranium imports and on sovereign debt transactions. And the new sanctions further target various Russian political figures and oligarchs. 

Bob Menendez (D) of New Jersey called the measure the "next step in tightening the screws on the Kremlin" so Putin understands "that the U.S. will not tolerate his behavior any longer."

Other supporters include Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) among those previously mentioned. 

In a statement Sen. John McCain said, "Until Putin pays a serious price for his actions, these attacks on our democracy will only grow. 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."

Notably, part of the legislation would require the State Department to make an assessment on whether Russia should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

It might have trouble passing, however, as even though a broad spectrum of legislators have lately criticized President Trump for meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last month and have charged Russia with seeking to interfere in US elections, there's concern that it could inadvertently impact markets beyond Russia's borders. It would further have to pass the House of Representatives before going to Trump's desk. 

According to Reuters:

The Banking and Foreign Relations Committees are planning hearings in advance of legislation coming to the floor. Some senators have expressed concern new sanctions might go too far or not succeed in getting Putin to change course.

The Treasury Department has warned Congress against legislation that would block transactions and financing for Russian sovereign debt in part because of the pain it would wreak across markets outside Russia’s borders.

The bill is considered the broadest and most far reaching of any Russia sanctions bill previously considered. Sen. Graham had recently described that it would include everything but "the kitchen sink." 

Meanwhile the ruble and Russian local bonds were shaken moments after the bipartisan legislation was announced Thursday: the ruble traded down by as much as 0.9 percent against the dollar, and bond yields jumped to the highest level since July last year.