January 29, 2018 / 10:14 AM / 25 days ago

Kremlin calls U.S. sanctions move attempt to influence Russian elections

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Monday that a new U.S. sanctions report expected to be released imminently was an attempt to influence Russia’s presidential election in March, but predicted it would fail to impact the vote.

The United States could release reports as early as Monday detailing the possibilities for expanding sanctions against Russia, including a list of oligarchs and potential restrictions on the holding of Russian government debt.

Moscow and Washington remain at odds over U.S. allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, something Russia denies, as well as over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

It is not clear whether the U.S. reports will definitely trigger new sanctions, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Russia regarded them as an unfriendly attempt to sway the March presidential election.

“We do think this is a direct and obvious attempt timed to coincide with the elections in order to influence them,” said Peskov. “We do not agree with this and are convinced that there will be no influence.”

Russia holds a presidential election on March 18, which opinion polls show incumbent Vladimir Putin should easily win.

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

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Writing by Andrew Osborn and Polina Ivanova; Editing by Gareth Jones

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