15:35 GMT24 February 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A group of centrist Democrats on Friday released a comprehensive plan to secure US elections and punish Russia with energy and banking sanctions.

    The plan, released on Friday by the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of centrist Democrats, calls on both parties to support a package of 11 bills that have already been introduced to Congress, including one bill which would impose sanctions on Russian banks and LNG projects.

    "The Blue Dogs are calling on Congress to pass the most hard-hitting measures ever imposed against Russia in retaliation to its attempts to meddle in the 2016 and 2018 elections and pursue aggressive policies to deter future interference attempts by Russia and other adversaries, including China, Iran, and North Korea," the group said in a press release.

    One of the 11 bills urges to step up sanctions on Russian banks, investment in LNG projects outside Russia, sovereign debt and political figures in order to punish the country for its meddling in the US elections; Moscow, for its part, has long denied allegations of any interference.

    This comes after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which was released in April, concluded that there was no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign team and Moscow. Russian officials have repeatedly denied interfering in US politics and said Mueller's report provides no evidence to support allegations of Russian election meddling.

    Prior to the report publication, bipartisan legislation dubbed the "Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA)," was introduced in February by Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, along with other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    The bill calls for swiftly imposing sanctions on Russian banking, energy and defence industries if any future election interference is detected.  It also expresses support for NATO and re-establishes the Countering Russia Influence Fund to provide financial aid to countries that are "vulnerable" to the Kremlin.

    The Blue Dogs also backed legislation aimed at better securing US elections by, among other things, requiring all states to use paper ballots or machines that produce a verifiable paper trail, close several legal loopholes to ensure foreign entities cannot participate in US election, and create new criminal violations for anyone who knowingly targets critical US infrastructure, including election infrastructure.


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