Russia Victory Day May 9 Moscow
"The United States Senate is saying to President Putin: 'you will be held accountable for your actions.'" Yuri Kochetkov/AFP

In a resoundingly bipartisan vote, the US Senate has approved an amendment bringing further sanctions against Russia for alleged attempts to interfere in the recent presidential election.

With the US Congress's current divided appearance, the 97 - 2 vote in favour of the sanctions show the broad support for punishing Russian individuals and it's economy in retaliation for election interference, that US intelligence agencies have said came from the highest levels of the Russian government.

As the White House looks to improve relations with Russia, the Senate has made it difficult for the administration to reject the new sanctions. The amendment is being added to a bill looking to penalise Iran which would be politically harmful for the White House to block.

Speaking before the vote, Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said: "Over the past several years... President Putin and his allies in the Russian oligarchy, have committed several sanction-able offenses. President Putin has violated the sovereignty of its neighbor, Ukraine, by annexing Crimea, he is guilty of human rights abuses, including propping up the brutal Assad regime in Syria; and of stifling political dissent and the human rights of his own people.

"In Mr. Putin's Russia, elections are neither fair nor free, the media is controlled by the state, and political opposition hardly tolerated."

Schumer accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of "a high-level campaign to interfere in the American election" before adding: "with the upcoming vote, the United States Senate is saying to President Putin: "you will be held accountable for your actions."

The measure also limits any executive power to lift the sanctions by adding a congressional review should any changes be attempted.

Congress and US intelligence agencies currently have several investigations looking into the alleged interference, with some reports suggesting that members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign are being investigated for possible collusion.

Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, Senator John McCain said in a statement after the amendment's passage: "This amendment incorporates some of the best ideas from different pieces of legislation already introduced in the Senate to impose new sanctions, strengthen existing sanctions, and require congressional oversight of any attempt to ease sanctions on Russia.

"There is no greater threat to our freedoms than interference in our ability to choose our own leaders, and this amendment sends a message that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy."