New US sanctions against Russia won’t ‘help’ Putin-Biden summit plans: Kremlin

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The Kremlin said Thursday that planned US sanctions against Russia in retaliation for alleged election interference and hacking will not “help” a potential summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden.

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Biden in a phone call with Putin on Tuesday invited him to hold a summit on neutral ground, as tensions between the West and Russia have escalated in recent weeks over the conflict in Ukraine.

US media on Thursday reported that Washington will announce sanctions affecting more than 30 Russian entities, expelling more than 10 Russian diplomats from the US and expanding an existing ban on US banks trading in Russian government debt.

“What is currently being discussed -- likely sanctions -- will in no way help such a meeting. That is unambiguous,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, referring to the summit.

He said, however, that it will be up to Putin and Biden to decide whether the summit will still go ahead.

On Wednesday, US ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan was summoned to the Kremlin and told that Washington must refrain from introducing new sanctions on Russia if it wants to mend ties, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson told AFP.

Ties between Washington and Moscow have frayed since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and a conflict broke out between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia separatists in the east.

Relations have since reached their lowest point since the Cold War, with the US imposing a series of sanctions on Russia including over alleged hacking of its 2016 presidential vote and the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

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