No Decision Yet on More U.S. Sanctions on Russia, Bolton Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. hasn’t made a decision yet on a new round of sanctions on Russia over the nerve-agent attack in the U.K. earlier this year, National Security Adviser John Bolton said, a day after meeting President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

“We are still considering what we may be obligated to do under a statute related to chemical weapons attack,” Bolton told a news briefing in Baku, referring to the poisoning in March of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. “No decision has been made at this point.”

“Decision-making is ongoing as we speak,” Bolton said. “I can’t predict whether it will be before the elections or after.”

Russian markets rallied on initial reports from the Interfax news agency based on a translation that portrayed Bolton’s comments as more categorical than the original. The ruble strengthened as much as 0.7 percent against the dollar, but later pared its gains as more accurate accounts of Bolton’s words emerged.

The U.S. in late August imposed a first round sanctions to punish Russia for the poisoning. U.S. law calls for a second, more sweeping wave of restrictions to be imposed after 90 days if the country accused of using chemical weapons doesn’t admit the violation and take steps to prevent it recurring. Russia has denied any involvement in the Salisbury attack.

Bolton’s comments came a day after he announced the U.S. and Russia had agreed Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump will meet in Paris on Nov. 11 on the sidelines of the World War I Armistice anniversary celebrations. Bolton held two days of talks in Moscow, overshadowed by the U.S. announcement it plans to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a landmark Cold War-era arms-reduction pact.

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