US to step up pressure on Russia with more sanctions

Different options also being weighed to contain Russian 'misadventures'


US Under Secretary of Treasury Sigal Mandelker has said Washington will impose "much more economic pain" to Russia if it does not change its global behaviours significantly.

Speaking before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Mandelker said, "though Russia’s malign activities continue, we believe its adventurism undoubtedly has been checked by the knowledge that we can bring much more economic pain to bear using our powerful range of authorities – and that we will not hesitate to do so if its conduct does not demonstrably and significantly change."

"The significance of our actions and other financial measures must ultimately be measured in terms of their strategic impacts," she added.

In a separate hearing, Assistant Treasury Secretary Marshall Billingslea told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that "Treasury has made countering Russian aggression a top priority" and "will continue to do its part to impose costs in response to Russian malign activity, leveraging all of the tools and authorities that we have."

Since January 2017, the Trump administration has sanctioned 217 Russian-related individuals and entities for a broad range of conduct.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Treasury announced to sanction several Russia-related individuals and entities over their involvement in actions against the US sanctions.

The US State Department said earlier this month that the country will impose new sanctions on Russia in two phases, and the first batch will take effect around August 22.

However, Billingslea said in the hearing that considering the size of the Russian economy and its deep integration into the global economy and financial system, US "sanctions are not and cannot be the only tool on which we rely."

He listed the engagement with foreign governments and private sector at home and abroad, and cooperation with international organizations and domestic and foreign media.

A. Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary of state, also told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "Russia has evolved beyond being simply an external or military one; it includes influence operations orchestrated by the Kremlin in the very heart of the Western world."

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