"This is from legislation from six months ago. It is a report that is sent to the Congress, it does not represent anything new. Sometimes I read in news reports that these are new things, but it comes from six months ago, from legislation. What is important in the US-Russia relationship is how we move forward, not looking back," Huntsman told reporters.
The US Ambassador to Russia commented on the US Treasury Department's report, expected to be released later on Monday that will lay the groundwork for more punitive measures against individuals, whom US authorities believe to be close to the Russian leadership. The Treasury Department is required to produce the report by the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which was passed by the US Congress last summer and signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 2, 2017.
Speaking about the current situation in US-Russia relations, Huntsman called 2017 "a difficult year, perhaps the most difficult of all," expressing hope that this year would be better, providing a start of a dialogue between the sides "where it is necessary."
Reflecting Russia's position on the upcoming report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it a "direct and obvious attempt to coincide some actions with the election in order to influence it," referring to the upcoming presidential election in Russia.
The spokesman added that Moscow would analyze the report in order to look into its possible consequences for the interests of Russian companies.
Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department announced it expected to meet today's deadline to issue a report that could pave the way for more Russia sanctions, as Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said in an interview on Monday.
"The Department of Treasury does plan to act today to issue a report and take this process the next step forward," Shah said in an interview with CNN. "This administration has been tough on Russia, we’re going to move forward on the sanctions legislation and meet our statutory obligations and we’re always going to fight for American interests."
The report is required to identify "senior foreign political figures and oligarchs in the Russian Federation, including… the most significant senior foreign political figures and oligarchs in the Russian Federation, as determined by their closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth," according to the legislation.
It must also assess the relationships between Putin and members of the Russian political class, and identify "parastatal entities," the law states.
In addition, the law requires the report to identify the sources of income of wealthy Russian businessmen, their spouses, children, parents and siblings and non-Russian business affiliations.