U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, but denounced it nonetheless, calling it “seriously flawed”, reports The Associated Press.
The Senate last week approved the bill by an overwhelming majority of 98-2. In addition to Russia, the bill also sanctions Iran and North Korea.
The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
Trump said the law will “punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang” and enhance existing sanctions on Moscow.
According to the bill, Trump is required to send Congress a report explaining why he wants to suspend or terminate a particular set of the sanctions on Russia. Lawmakers would then have 30 days to decide whether to allow the move or reject it.
While the White House originally objected to this part of the law, Trump indicated last week he would sign the package into law.
The president said Wednesday that he signed the bill “for the sake of national unity.”
“The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” Trump added. “By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.”
Moscow responded to the sanctions bill on Sunday, with President Vladimir Putin ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia.