What do the recent midterm elections in the United States and the resulting changes in the composition of Congress mean for U.S. foreign policy on Russia?
A recent Foreign Policy analysis focuses on the aftermath of the U.S. midterm elections and argues that while the Democratic Party won majority in the House of Representatives, new sanctions on Russia were likely regardless of who won the elections:
“While the Russia question may have been a thorn in Trump’s side, the Republican-controlled Congress has been able to pass sanctions on Russia with large majorities in both houses,” according to the analysis by Amy MacKinnon and Robbie Gramer.
The newest sanction bills under consideration in Congress are the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, designed to deter Russia from meddling in U.S. elections, Ukraine, and Syria, and the DETER Act, which would impose automatic sanctions on a country suspected of interfering in the U.S. election. On November 6th the State Department also announced that Russia would be subject to a second, harsher round of sanctions for its use of the Novichok nerve agent against Sergei Skripal. The new Democratic majority could also reintroduce several bills to punish Russia for election meddling.
The only good news for Russia may be the expected change in leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with a retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R), a key architect of Russia sanctions, set to be replaced with Sen. Jim Risch (R), who is likely to be softer on Russia.