Moscow ready with new counter measures if US toughens anti-Russian sanctions – Deputy FM

© Maksim Blinov
Moscow is well prepared if Washington decides to impose new sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said, adding that his department has taken time to study the matter and now has “asymmetric” reciprocal measures at the ready.

The sanctions policy of the US towards Russia has continued for a long time. We have used this period to conduct certain research and prepare a series of measures that will be applied in an asymmetric way should the sanctions be toughened further,” the diplomat said on Monday.  

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The deputy foreign minister did not specify what exact counter measures the ministry had in mind, however. Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the White House might introduce new restrictions on Russia because of the situation in Syria.

Moscow recently suspended a Russian-American deal on reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium. Addressing the Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee on Monday, Ryabkov said that the agreement might be suspended for an “unlimited” time because of Washington’s policies.

It is obvious that the current US administration will not cancel the [Magnitsky] law, and neither its sanctions, and will not decrease its military presence in Europe in order to renew the deal,” Ryabkov told the senators, adding that Moscow had the right to suspend the agreement in accordance with international laws and conventions.  

The Magnitsky Act, which was introduced in 2012, bans entry to the US to a list of Russian citizens who Washington accuses of being complicit in the death of a Russian lawyer named Sergey Magnitsky, who was an accountant for US-British investor William F. Browder. Magnitsky died in police custody in 2009 after having been detained by Russian authorities in connection with a fraud investigation. The adoption of the bill led to a substantial cooling in Russia-US relations.

The deputy foreign minister stressed that the suspended plutonium deal would not affect any of Moscow’s other commitments related to international nuclear security. “The decision [to suspend the agreement] does not interfere with our commitments on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other multilateral deals on nuclear non-proliferation,” Ryabkov said.