Putin decries 'anti-Russian hysteria' in US

CORRECTING SPELLING OF NAME NIINISTO- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto right welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin at Savonlinna Eastern Finland on Thursday

CORRECTING SPELLING OF NAME NIINISTO- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto right welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin at Savonlinna Eastern Finland on Thursday

Russia's Foreign Ministry demanded Friday that the United States cut the number of diplomatic staff it has in Russian Federation and said it would seize two US diplomatic properties, in a sharp response to a new sanctions bill passed by the US Congress a day earlier.

The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after the Ukraine crisis.

Late Thursday, the Senate voted 98-2 for a bill passed earlier by the House that strengthens existing sanctions on Russian Federation and gives Congress the power to block President Donald Trump from lifting them.

The proposed measures target Russia's energy sector as part of legislation that prevents Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow without congressional approval. -Russian relations. Trump had hoped to improve ties but his administration has been clouded by US investigations of Russian meddling in the November election to sway the vote in Trump's favor.

Putin, speaking on a visit to Finland, was commenting on a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives which on Tuesday made a decision to impose new sanctions on Moscow and to force President Donald Trump to obtain lawmakers' permission before easing any sanctions on Russian Federation.

"He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians", Scaramucci told CNN. But rejecting it could lead to an embarrassing veto override, as the bill cleared both chambers by wide margins, and lead to criticism that he's seeking to protect Russian Federation.

It also imposes restrictions on anyone involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and those who do business with them.

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Earlier on Thursday, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters: "I would guess that he (Trump) will sign it". The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country's Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.

The White House says Trump supports sanctions on the three countries in question and will review the legislation.

"This bill doesn't preclude him from issuing tougher sanctions".

The legislation puts Trump in a hard position.

Speaking on an official visit to Finland, Putin said an ongoing joint naval exercise with China in the Baltic Sea was a threat to nobody.

Thirty-five Russian diplomats were expelled from the United States in December under sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama in response to Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

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