Russian Top Officials Criticize US Sanctions

Rahim Huseynli Media Roundup 16 April 2021
Russian Top Officials Criticize US Sanctions

The Russian high-ranking officials have condemned the recent US sanctions against Moscow over “cyber-attacks and other hostile acts”. The sanctions come at a tense time for relations between the two countries.

On April 15, the White House imposed new sanctions on 32 individuals and entities over what it said was Russian interference in presidential elections, and cyber-attacks. The statement said that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service was involved in cyber-attacks against the US IT firm SolarWinds, which targeted thousands of US government and private networks, and accuses Moscow of interference in the 2020 election. 

The White House also said that it is expelling 10 Russian diplomats in Washington, including "representatives of Russian intelligence services," for the cyber hack and the election meddling.

The sanctions come a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking for the US and its NATO allies, expressed deep concerns about Russia's military build-up along the border with Ukraine, and two days after the US intelligence community said in an annual report that Russia "presents one of the most serious intelligence threats to the United States." 

Following the US sanctions, Poland has expelled three Russian diplomats, while the UK summoned the Russian envoy over “malign” activities.

Meanwhile Russia denies all the allegations, saying that it will respond in kind. A number of Russian senior officials and state media representatives condemned the sanctions, while the independent media have underrated the potential impact of the new restrictions, including a US Treasury directive prohibiting American financial institutions from purchasing Russian sovereign bonds in the primary market.

The director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, has said that the new US sanctions against his country are an ill-thought-out move that will damage international stability.

“This, of course, is an unfriendly and, in my opinion, a very ill-considered step. We all understand that the relationship between the two great powers - Russia and the United States - largely determines the level of international stability and security. This step is a contribution to the destruction of international stability, it is obvious," he said on 16 April. 

The speaker of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, said the US is "losing ground and many problems have piled up there which they want to solve at the expense of other countries". "[The US] is punishing itself. In the end they will have to establish relations which they've already ruined," he added. 

During her weekly press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova vowed that Washington "will have to pay a price for the degradation of bilateral relations". 

Commenting on new US sanctions against Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the US of having "sanction addiction", noting that "the sanction addiction of our American counterparts remains unacceptable". 

On April 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed possible retaliatory responses to the latest US-imposed economic sanctions with Russia's Security Council. "A conversation took place about retaliatory measures for the introduction by the USA of sanctions against our country," Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. 

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that Washington's decision to impose a new of round of sanctions on Russia will harm US financial institutions as well, as the US sanctions include a ban on US financial institutions from taking part in the primary market for rouble-denominated Russian sovereign bonds from 14 June. 

Siluanov argued that Russia's sovereign debt is one of the most reliable and low-risk in the world and that demand for it would remain high despite the sanctions. For US financial institutions, the sanctions will result in lost profits, he predicted.