New Sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea Even as China Sails Past Denmark

The House of Representatives passed new sanctions today on those old familiar burrs in the saddle — Iran, North Korea and Russia — even as China held joint military exercises with Russia that took them sailing through the Baltic Sea.

According to The Hill, the bill passed the House overwhelmingly with bi-partisan support and is headed for the Senate.

A bill aimed at imposing sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea passed the House 419-3 Tuesday after being held up by technical delays for weeks. But its fate in the Senate remains unclear.

The bill was largely lauded by leadership as a bipartisan effort.

“These bad actors have long sought to undermine the United States and disrupt global stability,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said in a statement. “Our job in Congress is to hold them accountable.”

The bill was reportedly a response to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and that nation’s aggressive behavior toward Ukraine and Crimea. Iran was included, of course, because of their Obama-sanctioned ballistic missile program.

But the inclusion of North Korea, according to Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Rep. Bob Corker, is a complication because it possibly would “disrupt timing in the upper chamber because it adds additional language to legislation already passed by the Senate.”

Leave it to North Korea to be disruptive.

But more interesting is the fact that one of the countries sanctioned has been playing rather nice with China in the Baltic Sea, a first for the Asian nation. According to
The New York Times, Russia and China have been conducting naval military drills off the coast of Denmark to showcase the growing naval strength of China.

“Piers Cazalet, the acting spokesman for NATO, said that the naval drills in the Baltic Sea “are an example of China’s growing military capabilities and its increasingly significant global role.”

Russia and China have been conducting military drills for a while now, with joint naval drills part of the program since 2012. But the war games in the Baltic Sea are something new.

At a joint ceremony over the weekend, Russian and Chinese naval commanders said the main aim of the exercise was “to train and improve cooperation procedures at sea,” according to the Russian defense ministry.

Crossing fingers and saying a prayer that we avoid a necessary debate over issuing sanctions against China.