Russian aggression has not shown any significant signs of slowing in recent months; just this month, a former KGB officer turned double agent named Sergei Skripal was poisoned along with his daughter in the British town of Salisbury. Although the Russian government has unsurprisingly denied involvement, all signs seemingly point to the Kremlin being behind the attack.
You’d think that the president of the United States would be interested in directly countering such a campaign of aggression, but President Trump has proven that he has other tendencies. For instance, during a recent phone call with the Russian president he congratulated him on his election victory despite the reported instruction of his national security staff to not do so.
In light of this behavior on the part of the president, congressional members interested in holding the Russian government accountable for its aggression have to take matters into their own hands.
Because of that situation, a not immediately identified member or members of Congress slipped new sanctions against Russia into the appropriations bill that the president was cornered into signing this past Friday.
The president signed it just in time to avoid a government shutdown but not before threatening to veto the measure over his frustration with not getting funding for his border wall.
Considering the fact that new financial punishments on Russia were included in the bill, one wonders if that’s actually the reason that he didn’t want to sign it.
The sanctions included in the spending bill signed by the president this Friday punish Russia for an array of the Western world’s grievances, including its occupation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. The bill forbids federal funding from going to either a government that supports the Crimean occupation or to the Russian government itself. The bill goes so far as to demand that Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin sees to it that any American sitting on an international financial board votes against a measure that funds the Crimean occupation in any fashion.
The spending bill goes after the Russians not just for the occupation of the Crimean peninsula but also over its meddling in the Syrian Civil War, where it supports the Assad government. Our own direct military engagement in that conflict has been limited including a missile strike against Syrian government forces last year after reports of a chemical attack on Syrian civilians.
As Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) put it to The Daily Beast:
‘I think there is broad bipartisan concern that our president hasn’t been active in pushing back against Russian aggression — either its meddling in our last election and likely meddling in our next election, or its aggression toward its neighbors like Ukraine, Georgia and its interference in Syria.’
As for the steps that the Trump administration has taken against Russia, the White House recently revealed its own set of sanctions on Russia for meddling in our 2016 election that had been mandated by Congress to come out in January.
The White House finally getting around to those sanctions comes after the president has long carried on with seeking to downplay the impact of Russian aggression.
He responded to criticism of his call to Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on winning his fraud of an election by writing, in part:
‘Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.’
Featured image via Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images.