Russian news agencies say U.S. told Moscow no new sanctions for now

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian news agencies reported on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration had informed the Russian embassy in Washington that the United States had no immediate plans to impose new sanctions.

Relations between Moscow and Washington are in focus after the United States imposed fresh sanctions on Russia in early April, triggering a massive sell-off on Russian markets and raising global geopolitical tensions to a new level.

“I can confirm that the United States has informed the Russian embassy that there will be no new sanctions for now,” TASS cited a source in the Russian foreign ministry as saying.

Interfax, TASS and RIA agencies published similar reports at the same time, citing one source at the Russian foreign ministry.

Interfax said the Russian embassy in Washington received a letter from the Trump administration, while RIA said it was a notification.

The reports moved the market, helping the rouble pair losses, and echoed previous statements by a senior U.S. administration official on Monday that Trump had delayed imposing fresh penalties.

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This official said Trump was concerned that immediately imposing more sanctions, on the heels of last weekend’s U.S.-led strike against Russian-backed Assad, would interfere with his efforts to negotiate agreements with Russian President Vladimir Putin on combating Islamic extremism, policing the internet and other issues.

The United States on April 6 imposed sanctions against Russian entities and individuals to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and what the U.S. Treasury Department dubbed other “malign activity.”

Russia denies any interference in the U.S. election.

In retaliation, Russian lawmakers proposed a wide range of measures to the U.S. sanctions last week, including banning U.S.-made software and alcohol.

A decision on Russia’s counter-measures has been postponed until mid-May, after the inauguration of Putin, who won another six-year term in March presidential elections.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Jon Boyle