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US Treasury chief says Russia sanctions to come within weeks

© AFP | US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that new sanctions against Russia could come within weeks

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday previewed a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia, which he said could come within weeks.

"I don't want to leave here without emphasizing -- you haven't asked me yet -- we are working on Russia sanctions," Mnuchin told reporters during a discussion about sanctions on North Korea.

"I can assure you that is in the process. I will be back here within the next several weeks to talk about that," he said.

The White House this week stepped up efforts to counter allegations that it is a soft touch on Moscow.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials earlier this week said a "task force" has been set up to address potential meddling in the 2018 congressional elections and work is underway to introduce more sanctions in response to Moscow's 2016 campaign.

Highlighting one potentially far-reaching step, a senior administration official said governments around the world have already been warned they could face sanctions for "significant transactions" with the Russian military.

Trump's vocal praise of President Vladimir Putin and his criticism of a special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the 2016 election has poured kerosene on allegations of foot-dragging.

Several members of Trump's campaign have been charged or admitted to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Kremlin-related officials who are accused of trying to sway the 2016 vote in Trump's favor.

On Thursday Trump's former campaign boss Paul Manafort was charged with additional counts of laundering money and tax fraud stemming from his time working for a Kremlin-backed Ukrainian politician.

© 2018 AFP