A Kremlin official said on Thursday a bilateral agreement with Washington on adoptions was still in place, creating uncertainty over the immediate impact of Russia’s new ban on Americans adopting Russian children.

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the ban from January 1 as part of a law passed to retaliate against U.S. legislation intended to punish Russian human rights abusers.

Moscow had told Washington it was also terminating a bilateral agreement regulating adoptions – but Putin’s spokesman on Thursday said a technicality meant that agreement would have to remain in force until the beginning of 2014. …

He confirmed that to Reuters, and said it would be up to legal experts to determine what effect it might have on American families who were still going through the process of adopting Russian children when the ban was imposed.