A woman and her dog leave Red Square in downtown Moscow on September 24, 2020.
YURI KADOBNOV | AFP | Getty Images
Moscow opposed new sanctions the US imposed on it late Tuesday, calling the restrictions cited by President Joe Biden’s administration “hostile”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday evening that it would take revenge on a “counterproductive” act that is further tightening bilateral relations.
“This is just a pretext for continued undisguised interference in our internal affairs and we will not accept it,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.
“We will react based on the principle of reciprocity, but not necessarily with symmetrical measures.”
She added that the sanctions would fail: “All hopes to impose something on Russia through sanctions or other pressure have failed in the past and will fail now.” However, she did not address how Russia might react.
The comments come after the US imposed further sanctions on Russia for allegedly poisoning opposition leader Alexei Navalny last year. Washington imposed restrictions on seven senior Russian officials and 14 companies “based on their proliferation activities in support of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs and chemical weapons activities,” the State Department said.
Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned by a nerve agent from Novichok in August. Navalny was flown to Germany, where he was treated and recovered from poisoning. The Kremlin denied any involvement in the poisoning, which Navalny claimed was politically motivated.
When Navalny returned to Russia from Germany in January, he was immediately arrested and charged with a previous suspended sentence for violating his parole.
At a subsequent trial in early February, Navalny argued that he could not attend the hearing because he was in a coma after being poisoned. Nonetheless, he was given a three and a half year sentence with a 10 month penalty for the time he was under house arrest.
The US and the EU had withheld sanctions following the verdict and demanded the immediate release of Navalny. However, both were forced to act as the Kremlin had no movement.
The US coordinated the sanctions with the EU, which on Tuesday launched its own restrictive measures and sanctioned four senior government officials whom it said were “responsible for serious human rights abuses” and involved in Navalny’s “arbitrary arrest, prosecution and conviction”. The restrictions came on top of other measures imposed last October when travel was restricted and the assets of six Russian officials and one unit were frozen.
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the US had “sent a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and human rights violations are having grave consequences”. However, some do not believe that the measures have gone far enough to deter Russia from similar abuses in the future.
Russia is already under sanctions for annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, meddling in the 2016 US elections and poisoning former spy and double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK in 2018 by Novichok
Timothy Ash, a leading emerging markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, called the recent sanctions a “total joke” and said they had not harmed Russia. He cited a rally in the Russian ruble as a sign that “the market likes it and believes it is doing so are very soft sanctions.”
“The Biden government has been sending a bad signal to Moscow from the start that it is unwilling to pay the cost of fighting Russian aggression,” he said in emailed comments, adding, “The West must learn that we must be ready to accept There is a price to be paid to fighting Russian aggression. “
Russia’s next move is now eagerly awaited, despite Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia will not fight fires with fire.
“Notwithstanding the US enthusiasm for sanctions, we will continue to consistently and resolutely defend our national interests and reject any aggression. We urge our colleagues not to play with fire,” she said.
“If the US is not ready for a just and sensible dialogue, this is its choice.”