WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump chafed on Thursday over the new dive in U.S. relations with Russia, widening a rift with his own Republican Party as he blamed Congress for causing the tensions with a new package of sanctions.

Far removed from his election campaign promises to improve relations with Vladimir Putin and his praise of the Russian president, Trump found himself the target of Kremlin scorn after he reluctantly signed the sanctions against Moscow into law on Wednesday.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday evening the measure showed the Trump administration was utterly powerless. The sanctions amounted to a full-scale trade war and the hope of improved relations with the new administration in Washington was over, Medvedev said in a Facebook post.

Even while campaigning for the White House, Trump's stated desire for improved ties with Moscow raised eyebrows among his fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats. Prospects for a rapprochement largely evaporated once he took office in January over U.S. intelligence agencies' findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

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