U.S. Increased Funding to Counter Russian Aggression

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The U.S. Senate passed a bill providing for sanctions against the Syrian military. In addition, the United States is increasing funding to deter Russian aggression. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday, December 17, adopted a defense policy bill, which provided for the imposition of sanctions against the Syrian troops and others responsible for atrocities committed during Syria’s civil war and fund war crimes investigations and prosecutions. This bill makes it more difficult for the Trump administration to reduce commitments to allies from Europe to Asia difficult for the Trump administration to reduce commitments to allies from Europe to Asia. The bill also registered strong congressional concern about Russia and China, will bind the U.S. to supporting Ukraine militarily and bar the Trump administration from any move to recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea. In addition, it will restrict President Donald Trump's ability to extract the U.S. from NATO or draw down its troop presence in South Korea. To counter Russian aggression in Europe, lawmakers boosted funding for the European Defense Initiative by $734 million. They also renewed and extended $300 million in security assistance, including lethal weaponry like cruise and anti-ship missiles, for Ukraine. The bill also imposes sanctions on companies and governments working on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. U.S. officials believe that the pipeline will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy. In addition, Congress voted to lift the US embargo, which has been in force since 1987 and prohibits arms transfers to Cyprus. The embargo was imposed to promote a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus conflict, but subsequently the members of the government and Congress as counterproductive considered this measure. Some U.S. officials have expressed concern that the embargo has brought Cyprus closer to Russia. However, lifting the embargo from Cyprus may cause discontent in Ankara. Now, the dispute has intensified due to the discovery of large gas fields around Cyprus. Turkey and residents of Northern Cyprus are seeking access to deposits. DW