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US Senate prohibits defense cooperation with Russia

December 09, 2016, 4:55 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

The overall US military budget for the next year will stand at almost $619 billion

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© AP Photo/Susan Walsh

WASHINGTON, December 8. /TASS/. The US Senate passed the bill on the Pentagon’s 2017 budget Thursday, which prohibits military cooperation with Russia and allocates funds to support Washington’s allies in Europe.

The overall US military budget for the next year will stand at almost $619 billion.

The bill is yet to be signed into law by outgoing US President Barack Obama.

White House request

Members of Congress committees on defense and military issues earlier said they had granted the Obama administration’s request to allocate $3.4 billion to strengthen the defense of its NATO allies in Europe. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the measure was to "aggressive actions by Russia." The document also cites terrorist threat and the inflow of refuges from the Middle East as reasons for allotting the money.

Limited Cooperation

According to the bill, any defense cooperation with Moscow will be limited until the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, "provides a certification" that Russia stopped "to illegally occupy Crimea, to foster instability in Ukraine, and to maintain an aggressive posture towards its regional neighbors." In addition, US lawmakers insist on full implementation of the Minsk accords and a ceasefire agreement for southeastern Ukraine.

"Bilateral military-to-military cooperation is unwarranted so long as Russia continues its aggressive and intimidating behavior towards U.S. partners and allies in Europe," the bill reads.

The defense coopeation has not been halted completely, however. For example, the bill envisages funds to purchase 18 Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines to equip Atlas-V carrier rockets.

Arms control

The bill also contains a clause that blocks the allocation of $10 million for the Executive Office of the President of the United States until the Defense Secretary reports to the Congress about counter-measures that Washington had taken against alleged violation by Russia of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).

In addition, the bill imposes a direct ban on financing further implementation of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) until the administration makes a number of reports to the Congress, including on Russia’s nuclear doctrine and on the treaty’s influence on the US nuclear arsenal.

Open Skies

The Congress also banned any expenditures concerning Russia’s observation flights under the Treaty on Open Skies until the Department of State and the Pentagon convince lawmakers that Moscow fully complies with the treaty and permits aerial surveillance of some of its territories, including Kaliningrad, Moscow, Chenchya and areas that border the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

White House stance

The White House administration has not yet expressed its attitude towards the document. Last year, a similar text was vetoed by US President Barack Obama. At the same time, according to the Miltiary Times portal, the Democrats previously expressed their support for the draft bill.

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