US President Donald Trump has delayed imposing additional sanctions on Russia and is unlikely to approve them unless Moscow carries out a new cyber attack or some other provocation.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had on Sunday announced that Washington was preparing new sanctions on Russia over its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, addresses a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at UN headquarters, 14 April 2018. EPA/AAP
\"The ambassador got out ahead of things this time,\" a senior administration official told Reuters.
The Washington Post first reported that Trump had put a stop to a plan for additional economic sanctions on Russia.
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The official said Trump was concerned that immediately imposing more sanctions, on the heels of last weekend\'s US-led strike against Russian-backed Assad, would interfere with his efforts to negotiate agreements with Russian President Vladimir Putin on combating Islamic extremism, policing the internet and other issues.
The United States has taken a series of recent measures against Russia, including expelling diplomats over a poisoning case in Britain and imposing sanctions against 24 Russians, including Putin allies, over interference in the US presidential election and other \"malign activity.\" Moscow has denied any wrongdoing.
On Monday, the administration accused Russian government-backed hackers of a global cyber attack on routers and other networking equipment.
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The official said Trump had expressed concern that if the administration did not proceed cautiously, tensions between Washington and Moscow - already at their worst since the Cold War - could escalate dangerously, the official said.
Asked for comment, the White House gave an identical response to an earlier statement by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who said: \"We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.\"
Trump still believes he can negotiate with Putin, but that it is not likely to be productive if he is also criticising him repeatedly, the first official said.