Russia issues warning as US sanction vote looms

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Donald Trump and Vladimir PutinImage source, Reuters
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President Trump has tried to pursue a more conciliatory approach towards Moscow

Fresh US sanctions against Russia would seriously harm bilateral relations, the Russian foreign ministry has warned.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said such measures would plant a "dangerous mine" under the foundation of ties.

The House of Representatives will vote later on the sanctions, intended to punish Russia for alleged interference in last year's election.

President Donald Trump has been dogged by claims of collusion with Russia.

The House is expected to vote overwhelmingly to back a bill that will impose new sanctions on Russia, as well as on North Korea and Iran.

The planned sanctions on Russia have also been drawn up in part to further punish its annexation of Crimea in 2014. They would place new restrictions on oil and gas projects, affecting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Mr Ryabkov said: "All this is very worrying. We can see no signs that that Russophobe hysteria that has engulfed the entire US Congress is dying down.

"Unfortunately, the prospects for adopting this bill are real. We are alarmed by the fact that a very dangerous mine is being planted under the foundations of relations between our countries."

The legislation would still have to pass the Senate.

If it does, it would provide a headache for President Trump, who has signalled a more conciliatory approach towards Moscow.

The president could veto the bill, but in doing so would fuel suspicion that he is too supportive of the Kremlin, correspondents say.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday: "He's going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like."

The US already has a raft of sanctions in place against Russian individuals and companies over Crimea. In December, following claims of election hacking, then President Barack Obama also expelled 35 diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in the US.

Russia has denied interfering in the US election and Mr Trump says there was no collusion.

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