White House: President Donald Trump to sign bill imposing Russia sanctions, Moscow retaliates by expelling US embassy diplomats

Russia sanctions

Washington: President Donald Trump has planned to sign a bill approved by Congress which will impose new sanctions on Russia, the White House announced.

"President Donald Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late Friday.

"He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it," The Hill magazine quoted Sanders as saying.

The new legislation will effectively tie the president's hands when it comes to lifting sanctions.

The House passed their version of the legislation on Tuesday, while senators voted 98-2 on Thursday night to send the legislation to Trump's desk, The Hill reported.

The bill gives Congress the ability to block Trump from lifting the Russia sanctions and also includes new penalties against Iran and North Korea.

The new sanctions come as the White House grapples with several ongoing probes into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which the president has blasted as unnecessary.

In response to the bill, Russia announced that it was expelling American diplomats and seizing property, reports CNN.

Moscow said on Friday that the US must reduce the staff at its embassy and consulates to 450, the same number Russia is allowed to have in the US.

Russia is also barring Americans from using two diplomatic facilities.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that while Moscow has been doing "everything possible" to improve the relationship, "recent events showed that US policy was in the hands of Russophobic forces, pushing Washington to the path of confrontation."

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