July 26, 2017
Russia has been targeted for alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, an allegation that Russia denies and which has not been backed by any convincing public evidence.
A new bill introduced by US legislators seeks to impose new economic sanctions against Russia, including North Korea and Iran. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expects the bill to become law, pending approval from US President Donald Trump.
The US House of Representatives approved a sanctions bill by a vote of 419-3 on Tuesday a new version of a bill that would impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, and limit President Donald Trump’s ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow. The measures target Russia’s defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries, and restrict dealings with Russian banks and energy companies.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey Ryabkov, warned if the new anti-Russian sanctions bill is to be approved, retaliatory measures will be imposed by Moscow.
Ryabkov told the media Wednesday, “What is happening defies common sense. The authors and sponsors of this bill are taking a very serious step towards destroying any potential for normalizing relations with Russia.” He added, “We told them [US] dozens of times that such actions would not be left without a response. I believe the signal went through even though present-day Washington tends to listen to and hear from no one but itself.”
Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists:
“It can be said now that the news is very sad from the perspective of Russian-American relations and the perspectives of their development,” “This is no less disheartening from the point of view of international law and international trade relations.”
“The attitude to this [law] will be formed on the basis of a thorough analysis, and the decision [on how to respond] will certainly be taken by the head of state, President [Vladimir] Putin.”
“The Russian president makes foreign policy decisions, and we will inform you if and when they are adopted. All other statements are quite understandable. We are talking about extremely unfriendly manifestations, so the reaction is obvious.”
The new round of anti-Russian sanctions by Washington is “equally dreadful from the point of view of international law and international trade relations,” Peskov added.
France and Germany have so far spoken out against the bill that the US House passed overwhelmingly as one that adversely affects European industries while advancing US commercial interests.
“This is concerning not only for the German industry. Sanctions against Russia should not become a tool of industrial policy in the US interests,” German Foreign Minister spokesman Martin Schaefer said at a press briefing.
The US bill also sparked concern in Europe, with European governments and business leaders fearing the sanctions would hurt crucial joint energy projects with Russia and may be motivated by Washington’s desire to take over the European natural gas market from Russia in favor of American liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The Duran’s Alexander Mercouris recently analyzed the potential impact of the new sanctions against Russia:
“The new sanctions package will not have the big impact on the Russian economy that some are expecting. The Russian economy has sailed through the previous far more severe sectoral sanctions which were imposed on Russia in July 2014, and the collapse in oil prices which took place in the second half of that year. The result was only a short and shallow recession, out of which Russia is now rapidly emerging. Indeed there are some who calculate that growth this year will be enough by itself to wipe out all the output loss during the recession, though I do not share this view.
The new sanctions in economic terms do not add significantly to the sanctions which were imposed in 2014. They appear intended to target the personal assets of super-wealthy Russians – a deeply unpopular class still wrongly referred to as “oligarchs”, though the days of their power in Russia are long gone – and to impede Western and specifically US participation and investment in certain of Russia’s industries, first and foremost those in the extractive sector.”