Russian Federation 'is ready for economic war with US' over sanctions

Daniel Fowler
August 10, 2018

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (front) and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attend a session of the Council of Heads of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Sochi on 11 October 2017.

European countries and the United States expelled 100 Russian diplomats after the attack, in the strongest action by President Donald Trump against Russia since he came to office. As the Trump administration punishes Moscow with more sanctions, the U.S.is taking a renewed look at how best to protect Russian defectors, dissidents and other émigrés, as well as how to respond if a military-grade nerve agent were ever deployed on American soil.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Thursday the new sanctions represent a fresh attempt to "demonize Russia".

The ruble is down 14.25% versus the dollar this year.

The State Department's surprise announcement of the new sanctions on Wednesday jolted Moscow, where some politicians and analysts had been hopeful that Putin's meeting with President Trump in Helsinki in July would stabilize U.S. "Russian Federation did not have and does not have anything to do with the use of chemical weapons", Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

"Our American friends should make no mistake about it, " he added.

The new sanctions were to take effect following a 15-day Congressional notification period, she said.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the action was aimed at punishing Russian President Vladimir Putin's government for having "used chemical or biological weapons in violation of global law".

"We are being threatened with further escalation of sanctions pressure", she said.

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The share values of major Russian firms, including Aeroflot, Rusal and Sberbank, also fell several percentage points in Moscow on Thursday.

Legislation introduced last week in draft form by Republican and Democratic senators, dubbed "the sanctions bill from hell" by one of its sponsors, calls for sanctions to be widened to include virtually all Russian energy projects and to effectively bar Western companies from any involvement in the country.

Nauert said the sanctions would begin on August 22.

The sanctions enacted so far this year, and the threat of more, have already inflicted pain on Russia's middle class.

Our provision of foreign assistance is a tool of USA power and influence, and we're not going to foreswear that just because we have the obligation to impose some sanctions against Russian Federation.

If Russia was brazen enough to kill with a chemical weapon on British soil, could it happen in the United States?

"In this situation, building relations is impossible to even speak about".

If Russia does not meet three criteria - ending its use of such weapons, assuring the US that it has no plans to use them again, and offering to let global observers verify that - then there will be a second, harsher round of sanctions in 90 days. Washington, those outlets say, wants to block Russia's return as a world power and is willing to harm the Russian people to that end.

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