Rus­sian PM strongly warns U.S. against ramp­ing up sanc­tions

Waterloo Region Record - - Canada & World - VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

MOSCOW — Rus­sia’s prime min­is­ter sternly warned the United States against ramp­ing up sanc­tions, say­ing Fri­day that Moscow would re­tal­i­ate with eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and un­spec­i­fied “other” means.

The tough mes­sage from Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev marked what the Krem­lin sees as a red line, re­flect­ing grow­ing dis­may with an­nounced U.S. sanc­tions that have sent the Rus­sian ru­ble plum­met­ing to its low­est level in two years.

The U.S. State Depart­ment said Wed­nes­day that Wash­ing­ton would im­pose new sanc­tions this month af­ter de­ter­min­ing this week that Moscow used a mil­i­tary grade nerve agent in March to poi­son an ex-Rus­sian spy in Eng­land. Rus­sia has strongly de­nied in­volve­ment in the poi­son­ings of Sergei Skri­pal and his adult daugh­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to the State Depart­ment, the sanc­tions will in­clude the pre­sumed de­nial of ex­port li­cences for Rus­sia to pur­chase many items with na­tional se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions.

New sanc­tions pro­pos­als in the U.S. Congress in­clude leg­is­la­tion tar­get­ing Rus­sia’s state-con­trolled banks and freez­ing their op­er­a­tions in dol­lars — a move that would deal a heavy blow to the Rus­sian econ­omy.

Medvedev warned the U.S. that such a move would cross a red line. “If some­thing like a ban on bank op­er­a­tions or cur­rency use fol­lows, it will amount to a dec­la­ra­tion of eco­nomic war,” the Rus­sian prime min­is­ter said. “And it will war­rant a re­sponse with eco­nomic means, po­lit­i­cal means and, if nec­es­sary, other means. Our Amer­i­can friends should un­der­stand that.”

For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov told U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo Fri­day that the new sanc­tions were “cat­e­gor­i­cally ob­jec­tion­able,” ac­cord­ing to a Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry state­ment.

Medvedev’s tone dif­fered con­sid­er­ably from the non­cha­lant ones Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and his lieu­tenants have used when talk­ing about Western sanc­tions and down­play­ing their im­pact on the Rus­sian econ­omy.

Word of more U.S. sanc­tions has rat­tled the Rus­sian cur­rency and stock mar­kets. The ru­ble plum­meted to its low­est level since Au­gust 2016 in early trad­ing Fri­day.

Rus­sia-U. S. ties have sunk to their low­est level since Cold War times amid ten­sions over Ukraine, the war in Syria and the al­le­ga­tions of Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Moscow’s hopes for bet­ter ties with Wash­ing­ton un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump have with­ered as his ad­min­is­tra­tion has in­tro­duced waves of sanc­tions against Rus­sia.

Medvedev said that while the U.S. de­scribes the re­stric­tions are pun­ish­ment for Rus­sia’s “bad” be­hav­iour, he thinks the real goal is to side­line a ri­val.

DMITRY ASTAKHOV THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Medvedev be­lieves that the goal of the new sanc­tions is to side­line a ri­val.

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