Sanctions on Russia to stay whoever wins US vote: Putin ally

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Andrey Kostin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin and the head of Russian state bank VTB, believes that United States (US) sanctions on Moscow will stay in place irrespective of how Americans vote next week, he told Reuters.

President Vladimir Putin, sitting next to Kostin this week at an investment forum, complained that the Trump administration had sanctioned Russia 46 times in the last four years.

Washington sanctioned Moscow after US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump’s favour, an allegation Moscow has denied. They have also accused it of trying to meddle in the November 3 vote.

“It is hard to say which of the candidates would be better for Russia-US relations,” said Kostin, 64.

Kostin, along with some other Russian officials and companies, was put under US sanctions in 2018 for ‘worldwide malign activity’.

The Kremlin, which appears to have a tepid preference for Trump, has said Russia will work with any US leader. Recent statements from Putin suggest he is hedging his bets, praising and criticising both Trump and Joe Biden.

“It is not clear against whom and for what new sanctions need to be introduced (by the United States on Russia),” said Kostin. “For now, I believe that sanctions won’t be scrapped and won’t be toughened either.