New U.S. sanctions attempt to influence Russia before election: Tass

FILE PHOTO - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov looks on at the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A new round of U.S. sanctions expected against Moscow is an attempt to influence Russia’s domestic affairs ahead of a presidential election, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Washington is expected to impose fresh penalties against Russia as soon as early February for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote. Russia has repeatedly denied this.

Moscow expects the United States to present two anti-Russian reports with the sanctions, Ryabkov told Tass news agency.

One of the reports will likely extend the number of Russian officials and companies on the sanctions list, while the other will analyse whether sanctions so far have proved to be effective, Ryabkov said.

“We see this as yet another attempt to influence our internal situation, especially ahead of the presidential election,” he said.

Russia will hold its next presidential vote on March 18 when President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win another six-year stint.

In August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a new package of sanctions drafted by U.S. lawmakers. The new legislation also limits Trump’s own ability to lift any sanctions against Russia.

The first U.S. sanctions against Russia were imposed in 2014 for its role in the Ukrainian crisis and for annexing Crimea. The European Union has also imposed penalties against Moscow, prompting it to retaliate with banning food imports from countries that sanction Russia.

The new round of U.S. sanctions could possibly include a ban on the purchase of Russian treasury bonds.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; editing by Clelia Oziel