Putin Says New Sanctions on Russia Are a Result of Domestic Political Battle in US

By Thomas Grove Features Dow Jones Newswires

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized Thursday new sanctions approved by the U.S. Senate, blaming them on domestic political battles in the U.S.

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The Senate said the new measures were meant to punish Moscow for Russia's violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity, cyberattacks and interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Mr. Putin said there was no reason to impose new sanctions and said at the heart of the new measures was the controversy in the U.S. around contacts between President Donald Trump's campaign team and Russian officials.

"It is, of course, evidence of the continuing domestic political battle in the States," said Mr. Putin, speaking at his annual call-in program in which he takes questions from Russians across the country.

"This policy has always existed--restraining Russia," he said.

The package would impose new restrictions on Russian actors linked to human-rights abuses, arms sales to the Syrian government or malicious cyberattacks on behalf of the Russian government.

It also would require President Donald Trump to seek congressional permission to relax the current regime of sanctions against Russia, possibly limiting his leeway to improve relations between Washington and Moscow.

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The vote was on a procedural motion to attach the Russian sanctions provisions to a larger package of Iran sanctions that also has bipartisan support. The final Senate vote on the overall bill is expected in the coming days. The House of Representatives also must pass the measure for it to become law.

The sanctions come on the back of numerous rounds of other punitive measures taken by the U.S. and the European Union in response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of the country's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. Other sanctions have been introduced for the country's alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Write to Thomas Grove at thomas.grove@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 15, 2017 06:53 ET (10:53 GMT)