US President Donald Trump says his country’s relationship with Russia is at a “dangerous low”, amid a feud with Congress over new sanctions imposed against Moscow.
Mr Trump approved the measure on Wednesday, despite calling it “flawed”.
Russia said the new sanctions were tantamount to declaring a “full-scale trade war”.
The law aims to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US elections and its actions in Ukraine.
Mr Trump had opposed the bill, which also contains measures against Iran and North Korea, as it constrains his ability to ease the sanctions without the consent of Congress.
The final line of his signing statement argued Congress was making a mistake, saying “as president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress”.
‘You can thank Congress’
In a fresh outburst on Thursday, he made clear who he thought was responsible for the current state of US-Russia ties.
“Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low,” he wrote on Twitter.
“You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!” he added, in reference to his inability to repeal and replace his predecessor Barack Obama’s flagship heath reforms.
But the Republican senator for Arkansas, Tom Cotton, told MSNBC that “our relationship with Russia is at a very low point but it’s [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s fault”.
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Russia has also reacted angrily. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the sanctions package “ends hopes for improving our relations with the new US administration”.
In a Facebook post, Mr Medvedev said the measures showed Mr Trump’s “total weakness” and that he had been humiliated by Congress.
A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, would not elaborate on Mr Medvedev’s comments but said “Russia will defend and protect its interests”.
Moscow had already retaliated last week by ordering the US to cut its diplomatic mission in Russia by 755 people.
The legislation limits the amount of money Americans can invest in Russian energy projects, and makes it more difficult for US companies to do business with Russia.
Trump and Russia
- While running for president, Donald Trump heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he wanted to see better relations between their two countries
- But Mr Trump’s time in office has been dogged by allegations Russia meddled in the election to help him win. Several investigations are under way to determine if his campaign colluded
- Russia denies interfering and Mr Trump says there was no collusion, calling it a “witch hunt”
- Claims of improper ties, and the emergence of undisclosed meetings with Russians, have led to the downfall of senior Trump officials and members of his close family are under scrutiny
- Other factors have complicated ties too, such as the US raids on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s ally