Trump signs controversial $738bn defence bill

Washington: US President Donald Trump has signed into law a $738 billion defence bill which includes controversial provisions calling for sanctions against Russia and Turkey.

Trump approved the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will increase the US military spending by about $20 billion, or about 2.8 per cent, on Friday night at a signing ceremony held at the Joint Base Andrews near Washington, reports Xinhua news agency.

The sprawling legislation has stirred up opposition overseas as it contains punitive provisions against Russia, Turkey and other countries.

The bill notes that the “(NDAA) protects European energy security by imposing sanctions related to Russian energy pipelines Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream”.

Despite facing potential sanctions, Russia and Germany have reaffirmed their commitments to complete the Nord Stream 2 project and put it into operation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week in Washington that “neither Nord Stream 2 nor TurkStream will stop”.

The bill also renewed a decision to exclude Turkey from the US-led F-35 fighter jet program in retaliation against Ankara’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defence system.

It also claimed that the Trump administration should impose sanctions on Turkey over the S-400 purchase.

Turkey accused the US Congress of “hostile” behaviour after senators passed the NDAA earlier this week.

The NDAA authorizes $635 billion in base discretionary funds for the Pentagon, $71.5 billion in overseas contingency operations funds and $23.1 billion for nuclear programmes at the Energy Department.

It also includes a 3.1 per cent pay raise, the largest in a decade.

In a win for Trump and Republican lawmakers, the bill will establish the Space Force, a new US military branch which will be housed in the Department of the Air Force and led by the chief of space operations.

The NDAA has remained one of the few authorization bills that Congress passes year after year.


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