CNN  — 

US President Donald Trump approved fresh sanctions on Russia Wednesday after Congress showed overwhelming bipartisan support for the new measures.

Congress passed the bill last week in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea and military operations in eastern Ukraine.

The bill’s passage drew ire from Moscow – which responded by stripping 755 staff members and two properties from US missions in the country – all but crushing any hope for the reset in US-Russian relations that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had called for.

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s in the bill?

The bill refers to sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, and it substantially reduces the President’s power to waive or ease certain sanctions without Congressional approval.

The Russian sanctions will target people and entities that:

– undermine US cybersecurity on behalf of the Russia government

– invest certain amounts in Russia’s energy export pipelines

– conduct “significant” transactions with Russian defense and intelligence agencies (though this will come into effect six months from now)

– commit, or assist in, serious human rights abuses

– commit acts of “significant” corruption

– provide support to the Syrian government to acquire arms

– invest, or facilitate the investment of, $10 million or more in the Russian government’s privatization of any state-owned asset in a one-year period that could unfairly benefit government officials or their associates.

The bill lists 12 types of sanctions that can be imposed and obliges the President to use at least five in many cases against those affected. They can include freezing assets, such as property, revoking US visas and banning exports from the United States to those sanctioned.

Vladimir Putin on Trump US politics _00003422.jpg
Putin retaliates over looming US sanctions
02:01 - Source: CNN

Why are there so many existing sanctions against Russia?

Ukraine: The United States and the European Union rolled out a rash of coordinated sanctions in 2014 over Russia’s occupation, and then annexation, of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.

Certain Russian individuals were hit with travel bans and asset freezes, and companies were hit with restrictions on their activities in the US and EU. Russia’s powerful elite, including members of President Putin’s inner circle, were targeted.

The sanctions were largely aimed at hurting the Russian economy. They targeted Russian state banks and major corporations, including state oil companies, such as Rosneft, and arms makers.

US election meddling: On December 29, US President Barack Obama announced fresh sanctions on Russia for allegedly interfering in the 2016 US election. Those sanctions included the closure of two Russian compounds used for intelligence purposes and expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the country. A report by intelligence agencies in January this year alleged that Putin had ordered a cyber influence campaign to help boost Trump’s chances of winning the election.

Who has imposed them?

The US and EU have spearheaded sanctions against Russia, but other countries have followed suit.

Canada joined the US and EU in the initial round of specifically targeted sanctions on March 17, 2014, after a referendum in Crimea on whether people wanted to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine – the US considered the poll to be illegitimate. Hours after those sanctions were placed, Putin signed a draft bill for the annexation of Crimea, and five days later, he officially signed that bill into law.

Other countries imposed their own sanctions in the days and months following, including Japan and Australia, as well as several non-EU countries in Europe, including Norway and Switzerland.