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US Republicans, Democrats: Russia Sanctions Must Stay | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The U.S. Capitol dome and U.S. Senate (R) in Washington, August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

United States Republican and Democrat Senate top Banking Committee said on Wednesday that sanctions imposed on Russia over involvement in Ukraine must not be lifted.

Senator Mike Crapo, the panel’s Republican chairman, said reducing sanctions could encourage Moscow to continue aggressive actions. The Senate said that Russia must lead drastic change in order to mitigate of lift the sanctions.

“Russia remains a hostile, recalcitrant power, deploying its military, cyber-enabled information espionage activities and economic tactics to harm the United States and drive a wedge between it and its allies,” Crapo said. US President Trump has said he intends, at least for now, to maintain US sanctions.

President Trump’s fellow Republicans and Democrats in congress have both expressed concern that Trump might reduce sanctions on Russia imposed under his predecessor, Democratic former President Barack Obama, because of Trump’s expressed desire to improve relations with Moscow.

Senator Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democrat, said the panel should look at increasing sanctions.

“We should strengthen, not weaken, Russian sanctions, and the president must work with Congress on a Russia policy that is clear-eyed about our adversaries and their behavior,” Brown said in his opening statement at the hearing.

Brown also said a surge in violence in Ukraine since Trump was elected president in November is a test by Moscow of the US resolve to support the Kiev government and the Ukrainian people.