In a joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that President Donald J. Trump will sign the Russian sanctions bill soon.
Vice President Pence said the Trump administration initially had concerns that the original bill “did not include the traditional flexibility that is afforded to the State Department or any administration in the conduct of American foreign policy.” He added, that it did improve “significantly” as it moved through the House of Representatives and through the legislative process.
“This legislation, we believe, will not only codify current Russian sanctions that our administration has upheld, but will also strengthen those sanctions — even while giving the President of the United States and our State Department the ability and the flexibility to be able to administer American foreign policy as appropriate,” noted Pence.
The bipartisan Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions Act is the product of an agreement between the two chambers, amalgamating elements of separate bills targeting North Korea (passed by the House in a 419-1 vote last May) and Iran and Russia (passed by the Senate in a 98-2 vote in June.)
The final bill targets key sectors of the Russian economy, including arms sales and energy exports, and applies the most stringent measures in history. Also affected by the bill are Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and supporters of its ballistic missile programs, as well as North Korea’s shipping industry and their access to hard cash, precious metals and other valuable assets.
There are several reasons the United States wants to impose sanctions on Russia, including human rights abuses, the country’s intervention in Ukraine, proven cyber attacks and suspected meddling in the U.S. election.
In signing the sanctions bill, Pence stated that President Trump and Congress “are speaking with a unified voice that those matters that the president spoke about so eloquently in Warsaw … about Russian destabilizing activities, about Russia’s efforts to support rogue regimes — that has to change.”
“For there to be a change in our relationship with Russia, Russia has to change its behavior. And by these sanctions, by my presence here, by the president’s powerful affirmation of the objectives and the values of our alliance in the West, our hope is that we will move toward better relations and a better future and a more peaceful world as a result,” Pence conveyed.
When asked if he had any advice he could give the United States on how to cope with Russian efforts to interfere in our elections and influence U.S. voters, Kvirikashvili said he is “genuinely interested in the strength of the United States” and said he wants to see the country “cope with global challenges.”
However, Kvirikashvili noted he didn’t think that Georgia was “in a position to judge about Russian interference.
“With our excellent intelligence capabilities, we were not able to detect any interference, and we think that [the] American nation has made its decision to elect a president, and of course, we look for more partnership with the current administration of the United States.”