April 15, 2021
FILE PHOTO. © Sputnik / Russian Foreign Ministry; © Andrew Harnik / Pool via REUTERS
By RT News
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that it would soon respond in kind to a new package of sanctions unveiled against the country by US President Joe Biden, with Washington also expelling ten of Moscow’s diplomats.
Maria Zakharova, the ministry’s spokeswoman, told reporters that retaliation against the move was “unavoidable,” and that the American ambassador, John Sullivan, had been summoned for “tough talks.” She said, “I would hardly have said this before, but I can say it now: It’s not going to be a pleasant meeting for him.”
Biden signed the decree on Thursday morning, ushering in sanctions against more than 30 Russian individuals and organizations over claims that Moscow meddled in the 2020 US presidential election and was behind the colossal SolarWinds cyber-espionage case that saw hackers gain access to more than 100 corporate networks, as well as nine American government agencies. The Kremlin has denied accusations it was involved in either case.
The new measures include a ban on American financial institutions directly purchasing Russian sovereign debt, which is traditionally used by governments as a way to shore up their economies.
Just weeks ago, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin warned that the US may resort to attacking bonds as part of “a deliberate calculation to create a toxic atmosphere around Russian securities in order to reduce their investment potential.” He revealed that Moscow has already been working to create a battle plan to limit the effect such sanctions would have on the economy.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan defended the move later on Thursday, saying that the package of sanctions comprised “proportionate measures to defend American interests in response to harmful Russia actions including cyber intrusions and election interference.” Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, also tweeted that “we are sending a clear message to Moscow” with the new measures.
However, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, replied saying that “now it is our turn to ‘hold the US to account’ for promoting unsubstantiated allegations and unfriendly moves. That’s how it works in diplomacy.”
Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s State Duma, claimed the measures demonstrated that the “whole arsenal of accusations has been exhausted, and the US is going in a circle.” He added that “by imposing sanctions, they punish themselves. In the end, they will have to build relationships that they themselves have destroyed.”
Responding to the news, the US-led NATO military bloc said that its members “support and express their solidarity” with Washington, and warned that “Russia continues to adhere to a recurring pattern of destabilizing behavior.” The statement concluded that its constituency nations “will continue to work in close consultation on how to respond to Russian actions that pose a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, added his voice to those backing Biden’s move. “We share the concerns of our partners about the increasing number of malicious cyber activities,” the former Spanish foreign minister said. “All actors must refrain from irresponsible and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace.”