Congress Is Gearing Up for a Bigger Fight With Trump Over Russia Policy
Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Stewart Patrick this week.
After a long delay, the Trump administration finally took the first steps in a legally mandated effort to punish Russia for its use of chemical weapons in the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom. On Aug. 1, the administration issued an executive order outlining the nature of sanctions it could impose on Russia, focused on restrictions on lending to Russian government or government-affiliated entities.
Because Moscow continues to deny its role in the attack and has taken no steps to address its alleged behavior since initial sanctions imposed by the Trump administration in August 2018, the follow-up sanctions were a legal requirement mandated by the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act. Curiously, however, the executive order came just a day after President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone to discuss wildfires plaguing Siberia and prospects for bilateral trade. ...