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New US sanctions move attempt to influence presidential election: Russia

The sanctions report expected to be released imminently by the United States against Russia intends to influence Russia’s presidential election in March, the Kremlin says.

The US treasury could release reports as early as Monday detailing the possibilities for expanding sanctions against senior Russian foreign political figures and oligarchs to President Vladimir Putin, who is standing for re-election.

Speaking at a conference call on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow regards the US reports as an unfriendly attempt to sway the March presidential election but it would fail to impact the vote.

“We do think this is a direct and obvious attempt timed to coincide with the elections in order to influence them,” Peskov said.

“We do not agree with this and are convinced that there will be no influence,” he added.

Moscow and Washington are at odds after US officials accuse Russia of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election although Kremlin representatives have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in November strongly rejected claims that Moscow interfered in the 2016 US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, saying these allegations are mere “fantasies.”

“Everything about the so-called Russian dossier in the US is a manifestation of continuing domestic political struggle,” Putin told reporters at the Asia-Pacific summit in the Southeast Asian country, adding that he was well “aware” of the increasing probe regarding contacts between Trump’s team members and Russians, including a woman who has claimed to be Putin’s niece.

Putin also in December renewed Russia’s rejection of the same accusations, saying the claims were nothing more than “espionage mania.”

The Kremlin spokesman further said, “The publication of this list on its own doesn’t mean anything,” adding, “It isn’t the start of a new sanctions wave. So we will have to analyze what will happen next.”

In a statement on Friday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry vowed to give a proper “response” to the “absurd” US sanctions against Moscow, shortly after Washington imposed a new round of bans over Russia’s alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis.