June 17, 2017 / 10:29 AM / a month ago

Putin: more U.S. sanctions would be harmful, talk of retaliation premature

2 Min Read

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to journalists following a live nationwide broadcast call-in in Moscow, Russia June 15, 2017.Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said new sanctions under consideration by the United States would damage relations between the two countries, but it was too early to talk about retaliation, state news agency RIA reported on Saturday.

The U.S. Senate voted nearly unanimously earlier this week for legislation to impose new sanctions on Moscow and force President Donald Trump to get Congress' approval before easing any existing sanctions.

"This will, indeed, complicate Russia-American relations. I think this is harmful," Putin said, according to RIA.

In an interview with Rossiya1 state TV channel, excerpts of which were shown during the day on Saturday, Putin said he needed to see how the situation with sanctions evolved.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with journalists following a live nationwide broadcast call-in in Moscow, Russia June 15, 2017.Sergei Karpukhin

"That is why it is premature to speak publicly about our retaliatory actions," RIA quoted him as saying.

Russia and the West have traded economic blows since 2014, when Moscow annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and lent support to separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The West imposed economic and financial sanctions that battered the rouble and the export-dependent economy. Moscow retaliated by banning imports of Western food, which also hit ordinary Russians by spurring inflation, and barred some individuals from entering Russia.

The threat of a new wave of sanctions emerged this month as U.S. policymakers backed the idea of punishing Russia for alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and for supporting Syria's government in the six-year-long civil war.

Putin had previously dismissed the proposed sanctions, saying they reflected an internal political struggle in the United States, and that Washington had always used such methods as a means of trying to contain Russia.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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