The Trump Administration and Kremlin Responses to the New Russian Sanctions Are Very Similar

Both are slamming the bill and blaming political discord in the United States.

Metzel Mikhail/TASS/Zuma

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump reluctantly signed into a law a new set of sanctions against Russia, issuing a statement criticizing the “seriously flawed” measure, which also curtails his power to ease Russian sanctions. “In its haste, the Congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions,” Trump said. “Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity.”

Trump’s statement distancing himself from the bill is similar in tone to the Kremlin response; both blame Congress and political divisions in the United States for the new sanctions.

In a statement last week, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Congress’ nearly unanimous approval of the sanctions bill indicates that “in certain circles” of US politics “Russophobia and the course of open confrontation with our country have become entrenched.” The ministry added, “[T]he new law on sanctions clearly showed that relations with Russia have become hostage to the internal political struggle within the United States itself.”

Seva Gunitsky, a political-science professor at the University of Toronto and Russia commentator, notes that “by saying things like ‘certain circles’ in Congress are pushing for these sanctions, they are still trying to appeal to Trump. They are saying, ‘Look, these sanctions are not really Trump’s fault; they are the Congress’ fault or the deep state’s fault.’ They don’t say it in those words, but that’s sort of implicit.”

Writing on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev also eased Trump’s responsibility for the bill he just signed: “The news is mainly that Trump has given up,” he wrote, noting that Trump’s other option was to go against Congress. 

Meanwhile, state-controlled Russian media led with the news that Trump had criticized the sanctions bill. “Trump: Newly-Signed Russian Sanctions Bill ‘Significantly Flawed,'” read a headline from Russia Today.  A headline on the state-owned online news website Vesti declared, “Trump Isn’t Sure That the Sanctions Bill He Signed Is Constitutional.”

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate