Трамп говоритиме про справу Скрипалів на Генасамблеї – посол США в ООН

Отруєння російського подвійного агента Сергія Скрипаля та його дочки Юлії на території Великої Британії стане однією з тем промови президента США Дональда Трампа на сесії Генеральної асамблеї ООН наступного тижня. Про це 20 вересня в ефірі телеканалу Fox News заявила посол США в ООН Ніккі Гейлі.

Президент США зверне увагу «на той факт, що ми були змушені вжити заходів щодо інциденту з участю росіян у Великій Британії», наголосила Гейлі, але не розповіла про інші деталі виступу Трампа в цьому питанні.

Іншими центральними темами промови Трампа стане ситуація навколо іранської ядерної програми, Північної Кореї та з інших питань. «Настав час провести справжню дискусію (щодо Ірану – ред.), і це те, що ви побачите, коли президент головуватиме на Раді безпеки», – додала Гейлі.

Також на цю тему: США і союзники вислали 151 російського дипломата – Держдепартамент

Отруєння в березні Скрипалів, які після тривалого перебування в лікарні одужали, викликало дипломатичну кризу у відносинах між Великою Британією і ширше Заходом, з одного боку, і Росією, з іншого. Лондон звинуватив в отруєнні Скрипалів бойовою хімічною зброєю, яку почали розробляти в часи СРСР на території Росії, нинішню російську владу. Москва відкидає ці звинувачення.


Trump: Kavanaugh Is ‘Great Gentleman With An Impeccable Reputation’

President Donald Trump continues to support Brett Kavanaugh, his nominee for the Supreme Court, describing him at a rally in Las Vegas Thursday as “a great gentleman with an impeccable reputation.”

“He is a fine, fine person,” Trump said of Kavanaugh, who is facing allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman 36 years ago. 

Lawyers for the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her say she wants to testify before a Senate panel next week, but only if her safety is ensured. 

Attorney Debra Katz said her client, Christine Blasey Ford, has gotten death threats and she and her family have been forced out of their California home. 

But according to U.S. media reports, Katz said in an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford still wishes to testify “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, has scheduled a hearing for next Monday for both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear in public to tell their stories.

But Katz wrote that “Monday’s date is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”

Katz said Ford’s “strong preference” is that “a full investigation” be completed before she testifies. She had earlier called for the FBI to probe the charges against Kavanaugh.

Late Thursday, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wants to tell his side in a Monday hearing. 

“I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name,” he wrote.

Media reports say Kavanaugh has also received what law enforcement officials say are credible death threats. 

Trump chose Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

His approval by the Judiciary Committee and the Republican-majority Senateappeared to be an almost certainty until The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, who is now a California psychology professor. 

She alleged a “stumbling drunk” 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in 1982 when both were in high school. 

She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to escape. 

Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the charges, saying he has never done any such thing to Ford or any other woman. 

A number of women who say they have known and worked with Kavanaugh throughout his legal career say he has been respectful and fair in dealing with them. 

Trump expressed support for Kavanaugh, saying “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford. But he said he wants her to testify, saying, “I really want to see her, to see what she has to say” and that if it takes the Senate a little longer to confirm Kavanaugh, so be it. 

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on Oct. 1, or if not by then, ahead of the Nov. 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.


EU States Divided Over How National Governments Should Exercise Power

European Union leaders increasingly are at cross-purposes with agreement elusive on the big issues facing the bloc — as witnessed midweek at a summit in the Austrian city of Salzburg, where over a four-hour dinner they aired deep divisions over migration.

But they are not only divided on the headline issues of migration, Brexit and economic governance, say analysts and EU officials. 

Expectations about how national governments exercise power and observe EU rules are diverging, too. And some national leaders worry that the liberal democratic values the bloc was founded on are now being eroded by some of their counterparts. 

“It is not clear that we have shared expectations,” says a senior EU official, who sees the primary fault line running between the more traditional states of Western Europe on one side and new nativist and populist governments in Central and southern Europe on the other.

Clashes are coming fast and furious and more often than not focus on rule-of-law issues and arguments about democratic checks and balances. One of the latest flash-points has come over the Schengen system of borderless travel. 

The system, which is observed by 26 member states, has already been coming under pressure from the migration crisis roiling the continent. Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden have all temporarily re-imposed border controls at some or all of their borders after citing security threats. But they are within Schengen rules when doing so and have been careful not to break them.

Activist blacklisted

But Poland has been accused of flagrantly abusing the system by blacklisting a rights activist and trying to limit her freedom of movement within the Schengen area.

Last month, the Polish government of the populist Law and Justice Party (PiS) deported Crimean-born rights activist Lyudmyla Kozlovska. Married to a Pole, the 33-year-old had been living in Warsaw for many years and applied for permanent residency only to find herself expelled after the application was declined. Kozlovska runs a high-profile rights foundation focusing on democracy issues in former Communist countries, and was active in the Maidan protests that led to the ouster of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych.

After deporting Kozlovska, the Poles added her name to a Schengen-wide blacklist — in effect preventing her from entering any of the 26 Schengen-member states. Polish officials claim the non-governmental organization she runs, Open Dialog Foundation, has funding irregularities and is involved in “subversive activities.”

Kozlovska told VOA she believes she’s been targeted because “the PiS is afraid of popular protests like Maidan developing” and is fearful of ODF’s contacts with European politicians in Brussels.

Her blacklisting has prompted the anger of German lawmakers, straining already tense relations between Berlin and Warsaw. German parliamentarians argue Schengen blacklisting is meant to be reserved for people who are convicted or suspected terrorists or for criminals, and that critics or dissidents, however inconvenient they might be, shouldn’t be listed. 

Kozlovska, a critic of the PiS, spoke this week at an event in the German parliament after the German embassy in Kyiv issued her a temporary entry permit, despite the Schengen ban. Frank Schwabe of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), one of the lawmakers who invited her, says, “the Polish government has a problem with accepting criticism” and he dubs as “scandalous” the blacklisting of her.

Kozlovska’s case is just one of a series of growing disputes between member states over rule-of-law issues and the interpretation of EU regulations, reflecting how different expectations are in the Western EU states compared to Central and southern Europe, ruled now by new nativist governments.

EU officials say Western states tend to be more punctilious in the observance of EU-wide laws and regulations. While their counterparts in the east and the south are less legalistic and more pragmatic in their compliance when it suits their domestic political purposes, breaching fiscal rules, banking transparency and money-laundering regulations more often, and increasingly flouting continent-wide human rights protections, from freedom of expression to the rights of civil society. 

“The Kozlovska case is just one example of an increasing split between states who are wedded to classical liberal ideals and those who are not,” says a senior EU policy-maker. “Freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, legal certainty are democratic achievements that bind us together as a community — or they did once. Now they are being challenged,” he added.

Both Poland and Hungary have clashed with Brussels and Western EU states over their efforts to reshape civil society and to curtail the activities of NGOs.

Midweek, Hungarian officials vowed they won’t withdraw a package of laws passed earlier this year that criminalize any individual or group offering to help illegal immigrants claim asylum. The legislation, which was passed in defiance of the EU, restricts the ability of NGOs to act in asylum cases. Under the law, individuals or groups that help illegal migrants gain status to stay in Hungary will be liable to prison terms.

The measures are called officially the “Stop Soros” laws, named after Hungarian-American billionaire NGO philanthropist George Soros. Two leading European rights bodies, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have criticized the measures as “arbitrary” and vague, arguing they are incompatible with EU law.

Hungarian state secretary Pál Völner told a midweek news conference that Budapest finds it objectionable that the European Commission, which has started infringement proceedings against Hungary, is getting involved in domestic political activities.

That’s also Poland’s position when it comes to rule-of-law issues.

Poland was banned Monday from an EU body representing member states’ judicial institutions for the perceived erosion of the independence of country’s judiciary following changes introduced by the PiS government. Polish ministers say their reforms are popular and are in line with their electoral mandate. Polish President Andrzej Duda has rebuffed EU threats telling supporters earlier this week at a rally in the south of Poland, “they should leave us in peace and let us fix Poland.”


Kavanaugh Battle Carries Echoes of the Past

The U.S. Senate appears to be moving toward a final showdown over the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s choice to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was thrown into turmoil after a California professor, Christine Blasey Ford, alleged that he sexually assaulted her at a house party when they were both teenagers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.

​Thomas confirmation

The Kavanaugh battle recalls another high stakes drama that riveted the country nearly 27 years ago.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. But during confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, law professor Anita Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her when they worked together in previous government jobs.

Thomas denied the allegations and condemned the inquiry during nationally televised hearings that riveted the country. 

“As a black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves,” Thomas told the committee.

Even though Thomas was narrowly confirmed, the political fallout from the contentious hearing had an impact for years to come.

Many women around the country were outraged at how the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Hill about the allegations, and some of them wound up running for Congress the next year.

​Year of the woman

The following year, 1992, became known as The Year of the Woman after numerous women candidates were elected to Congress, including several in the Senate where Hill had confronted Thomas. In 1991, there were only two women in the Senate. Today there are 23 and this year has seen a record number of women running for Congress.

Among those elected to the Senate in 1992 was Democrat Patty Murray of Washington.

“I am a United States senator today because of the way Anita Hill was treated in 1991,” Murray told reporters at the Capitol this week. “Women are watching. We are not going to allow that to happen again.”

Anita Hill told ABC’s Good Morning America program that she has been closely watching the Kavanaugh nomination fight. She urged the Senate to pause as it moves toward a vote on Kavanaugh and have the FBI do a thorough investigation of Ford’s allegation regarding Kavanaugh.

“We are talking about an appointment for a lifetime on this nation’s highest court making decisions that are going to affect Americans probably for decades,” Hill said.

A new reality

Nearly three decades later, echoes of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas showdown still resonate in the #MeToo movement where numerous women have come forward to call out the behavior of many powerful men.

“I think we can trace that movement in many ways to the anger that came out of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation process,” said George Washington University legal expert Paul Schiff Berman.

Republicans want to hear from both Ford and Kavanaugh about the alleged assault, either in a public or private hearing.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has complained that the Democrats are just looking for ways to slow down and stop Kavanaugh’s appointment.

“The ranking member (top Democrat) of the Judiciary Committee had notice of this for quite some time and decided to spring it right at the end and it is pretty obvious this is all about delaying the process,” McConnell said.

Politicized process

If confirmed, Kavanaugh would be President Trump’s second appointment to the Supreme Court following the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would solidify a conservative majority on the high court, long a goal of the conservative movement dating back to the time of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Trump also sees the Democrats playing politics with the Kavanaugh nomination. 

“They just resist and they just obstruct. And frankly, I think they are lousy on policy and in many ways, they are lousy politicians,” Trump said.

On a broader level, some analysts see the battle over Kavanaugh as the latest example of how polarized politics has paralyzed Washington.

“And it is unfortunate as a country, because the Supreme Court, if handled properly, should be immune from these things,” said conservative analyst Jamil Jaffer of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. “We should be confirming people who are qualified in the 90s (out of 100 votes) and we should be letting them do their job, which is not to set policy but instead to say what the law is.” Jaffer was a guest on VOA’s Press Conference USA.

And so, as a divided Senate prepares to render a judgment on Kavanaugh, perhaps as early as next week, many Americans may have the feeling that they have seen this drama play out before.


Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Fight Unfolds in Spotlight of #MeToo

Allegations of sexual misconduct against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have thrown his Senate confirmation into turmoil. And the treatment of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has sparked an emotional debate across the country on how legislators should handle abuse claims in the #MeToo era.

President Donald Trump has named Kavanaugh to a lifetime position on the nation’s highest court. The nominee is on the brink of becoming one of the nine U.S.  judges who will decide cases for decades to come on immigration, the environment, finance, civil rights, and Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that opened up American women’s access to abortion.

The controversy is unfolding in a new political atmosphere compared with past Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The #MeToo movement that began a year ago has women speaking out against sexual misconduct and finding solidarity in huge numbers, and predominantly male institutions — including the U.S. Congress — are treading more carefully with accusations of abuse and harassment that they once more easily dismissed, experts say. Republicans, in particular, also are worried about how they will fare with female voters in critical November elections.

“We have had all this attention to sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior and the #MeToo movement. There’s just much more awareness of this whole area of sexual harassment, and I think women’s rights and how women should be treated in the public sphere,” said Stu Rothenberg, a senior editor with the political newsletter Inside Elections. “Politically, this issue right now is a big deal.” 

Ford, a California professor, said publicly Sunday that Kavanaugh had sexually abused her when they were both teenagers in the early 1980s. He was drunk at the time, she said, and pinned her down on a bed, groped her and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Kavanaugh denies the episode, saying in a statement: “This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone.”

Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is vetting Kavanaugh before a Senatewide vote to confirm him, is now figuring out how to proceed. Ford says the FBI should investigate the incident before she testifies. Kavanaugh’s Republican advocates, meanwhile, suggest they will hear enough if both sides speak under oath. The testimony could happen as soon as Monday.

That scenario — a so-called “he said, she said” — is a stark reminder of a watershed moment for American women almost three decades ago. In 1991, attorney Anita Hill sat before an all-male Senate panel and detailed how Clarence Thomas, another Supreme Court nominee and her former boss, harassed her at work with sexual talk and advances. The hearings were televised, Americans were riveted, and Hill’s credibility was repeatedly derided. Thomas denied the accusations and was confirmed to the court.

Some of the same U.S. senators are still on the pivotal committee, including Chairman Chuck Grassley, an 85-year-old Iowa Republican, and Senator Orrin Hatch, an 84-year-old Utah Republican. 

Hill spoke up “to shine a light on the character of someone who would sit at the highest level of our court,” said Fatima Goss Graves, CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “Instead of being believed, she was savaged by a judiciary committee that painted her as dishonest, treating her as a perpetrator and attempted to discredit her reputation.”

Goss Graves says she believes Ford’s account, and expects senators to treat her with fairness and respect. The 100-member U.S. Senate had two women in 1991; it now has 23.

“Even in the middle of the #MeToo movement, many survivors fear coming forward, and for very good reasons,” she said. “Too often, they pay a very serious price for doing so, including retaliation, threats to their very well being, to their families, to their careers.”

In a letter to the Senate committee requesting the FBI investigation, Ford’s lawyer said she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” and has had to leave her home since going public.

Message to men: ‘Do the right thing’

Hill, who now teaches at Brandeis University, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that parallels between the two nomination proceedings are impossible to miss.

“In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for both the seriousness of sexual harassment claims and the need for public confidence in the character of a nominee to the Supreme Court,” Hill wrote. “It failed on both counts.”

Rothenberg, a veteran editor, publisher and political analyst, said he still expects Kavanaugh to be confirmed because Republicans hold a majority in the Senate. They may not have as much sway after congressional and state elections Nov. 6. Polls show female voters favor Democratic candidates by about 20 percentage points, and a record number of women are running for office. 

“The current political environment involves a lot of women candidates who have come out of the woodwork because they feel that they have been affected by the #MeToo movement,” Rothenberg said.

Female voters will be watching closely to see how the Senate treats Ford and her allegations, he added. As Hill wrote in the New York Times, “There is no way to redo 1991, but there are ways to do better.” 

Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, one of four women on the judiciary committee, said Tuesday that she’s frustrated by how her Republican colleagues are treating Ford.

“Guess who is perpetrating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country,” she said at a news conference. “I just want to say to the men in this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing, for a change.” 


Китай і Росія різко засудили нові санкції США

Пекін закликав Сполучені Штати зняти санкції з Головного управління збройних сил міністерства оборони Китаю та його начальника, погрожуючи «наслідками» в разі, якщо санкції залишаться чинними.

Рішення про санкції Держдепартамент США схвалив через «масштабні угоди», які китайська сторона уклала з російським «Рособоронекспортом». Ідеться про придбання торік Китаєм 10 російських літаків Су-35 і зенітно-ракетних комплексів С-400 – у 2018-му. Це перший випадок застосування санкцій США до третьої країни за співпрацю з російськими оборонними структурами. Можливість таких санкцій передбачає американський закон «Про протидію противникам Америки за допомогою санкцій».

Докладніше про це: Санкції проти Росії: Трамп надав Міністерству фінансів США додаткові повноваження

У заяві представника МЗС Китаю йдеться, що рішення Вашингтона «порушує основні принципи міжнародних відносин і серйозно шкодить двостороннім відносинам».

Міністерство фінансів Росії також 21 вересня прокоментувало рішення США включити в так званий «чорний список» 27 російських громадян та шість структур, у тому числі так звану «приватну військову компанію (ЧВК) Вагнера», компанію «Оборонлогістика» та авіазавод у місті Комсомольськ-на-Амурі, а також начальника Головного управління Генштабу (колишнє ГРУ, Головне розвідувальне управління) та інших імовірних офіцерів військової розвідки. Заступник міністра закордонних справ Росії Сергій Рябков називав дії Вашингтона спробою диктувати Росії свої умови.


Танзанія: кількість жертв аварії порома перевищила 100, десятки людей зникли

Понад 100 людей загинули, коли пасажирський пором потонув в озері Вікторія в Танзанії. Раніше повідомляли про 79 загиблих. Ще десятки людей вважають зниклими, рятувальна операція триває.

Як повідомив вранці 21 вересня губернатор регіону Мванза Джон Монґелла, щонайменше 37 людей вдалося врятувати, коли пором перекинувся на озері, розташованому між Танзанією, Кенією й Угандою.

За попередніми даними, на судні було понад 300 людей, але точної кількості пасажирів поки що не називають.

Влада заявляє, що судно затонуло всього за кілька метрів від причалу в районі Укереве.

Трагедія сталася 20 вересня. Її причина поки що невідома.


Britain’s Brexit Proposal Dead, May Humiliated, Press Says

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposals were declared dead by the British media Friday after what they cast as a humiliation at the hands of European Union leaders at an informal summit in Salzburg.

EU leaders said they will push for a Brexit deal next month but warned May that if she will not give ground on trade and the Irish border by November they are ready to cope with Britain crashing out.

For the British media, the message was clear. “Your Brexit’s broken,” the Daily Mirror newspaper said on its front page.

British newspapers led their front pages with a Reuters picture showing May, attired in a red jacket, standing apparently aloof and alone from a mass of suited male EU leaders.

Two hedgehogs

The negative headlines indicate the extent of the divergence in perceptions between London and the capitals of the EU’s other 27 members on the future of Brexit.

French President Emmanuel Macron bluntly said May’s Brexit proposals, known as Chequers after the country house where they were agreed by the British Cabinet in July, were “unacceptable.”

European Council President Donald Tusk was criticized for posting a picture of him offering May a choice of delicate cakes beside a message: “Sorry, no cherries.” That is a reference to what EU leaders cast as British attempts to cherry pick elements of EU membership.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sought to calm any hurt feelings but called for caution, comparing Britain and the EU to two loving hedgehogs.

“When two hedgehogs hug each other, you have to be careful that there will be no scratches,” he told Austrian newspapers.

Deadline March 29

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29, yet little is clear: There is, so far, no divorce deal, rivals to May are circling and some rebels have vowed to vote against a possible Brexit deal.

Both London and Brussels say they want a divorce deal, though there is limited time if the British and EU parliaments are to ratify a deal by March 29. Any deal must be approved by British lawmakers.

May on Thursday promised new proposals to reassure Dublin that it would not get a “hard border” with Northern Ireland but said that she too could live with a no-deal outcome.

Opposition from Conservatives

May’s former Brexit minister David Davis has said up to 40 lawmakers from the Conservative Party will vote against her Brexit plans.

Davis told Huffington Post there was a “rock-solid” core of party lawmakers who belonged to the European Research Group (ERG), a grouping which wants a sharper break with the EU and were willing to vote down her plans.

If a possible deal were rejected by the British parliament, Britain would face leaving the EU without an agreement, delaying Brexit or calling another referendum.

If Britain left without a deal, the country would move from seamless trade with the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states.

Many business chiefs and investors say a “no-deal” Brexit would weaken the West, panic financial markets and block the arteries of trade. Brexit supporters say such fears are exaggerated and Britain would thrive in the long term.


US Demands Freedom for NASA Scientist Imprisoned in Turkey

The Trump administration on Thursday thanked Turkey for its reduced sentence for an imprisoned U.S. scientist but continued to demand his immediate release.

The State Department said there was no “credible evidence” in Turkey’s case against NASA scientist Serkan Golge.

Turkey sentenced Golge to 7½ years in prison in February on charges of belonging to an outlawed group that Turkey blames for attempting a coup that failed in 2016. The verdict was appealed. A court in Adana threw out the conviction, ruled instead that Golge had aided the group, and reduced the sentence to five years.

Golge’s lawyers said they would appeal his case again to a higher court.

Golge is a research scientist with the U.S. space agency. He and his family were visiting his native Turkey in 2016 when the coup attempt was carried out.

He was swept up in the mass arrests of tens of thousands of people suspected of playing a part in trying to overthrow the Turkish government.

Golge insists he is innocent. His wife says that he was arrested because he is an American citizen and that Turkey is holding him hostage.

The Golge case and that of another jailed U.S. citizen accused of participating in the failed coup, clergyman Andrew Brunson, have caused tension between the United States and Turkey.


US Sanctions Chinese Agency for Buying Russian Military Equipment

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Chinese military agency and its director for buying defense equipment from Russia in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions bill enacted in 2017.

The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department, which oversees defense technology, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.

The Trump administration also blacklisted a further 33 people and entities associated with Russian military and intelligence, adding them to a sanctions list under the 2017 law, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.

One State Department official, who briefed reporters and speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted that the China sanctions targeted Moscow only, not Beijing or its military.

“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia. CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country,” the official told reporters on a conference call. “They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities.”

The measures come as President Donald Trump’s administration pursues a variety of strategies to clamp down on China and faces growing pressure to respond strongly to U.S. intelligence agency reports that Russia is continuing to meddle in U.S. politics.

Members of Congress, including many of Trump’s fellow Republicans, who passed the sanctions bill nearly unanimously, have repeatedly called on the administration to take a harder line against Moscow.

The State Department official said the sanctions were related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018.

The sanctions block the Chinese agency from applying for export licenses and from participating in foreign exchange transactions under U.S. jurisdictions.