Photo: Dmitry Astakhov, AP
MOSCOW (AP) – Russian Prime Minister has severely warned the United States on Friday against sanctions, stating that Moscow will re-evaluate with "others" economic, political and unspecified means.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's hard message marked what the Kremlin sees as a red line, reflecting a growing dismay with the new US sanctions that have already plunged the Russian ruble to its lowest level in two years.
The US State Department said Wednesday that Washington made the decision this week that Moscow used Novichok's nerve agent to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury in March , and that sanctions would be followed at the end of the month. Russia has strongly denied involvement in the Salisbury poisonings.
According to the State Department, such sanctions will include the alleged denial of export licenses for Russia to purchase many items with national security implications.
New proposals for sanctions at the US Congress include legislation directed at Russian state-controlled banks and freeze their dollar operations – a move that would have dealt a major blow to the Russian economy
Medvedev has warned the United States that such a move would have crossed a red line.
"If something like a ban on banking or currency use is tantamount to a declaration of economic war," he said. "And it will guarantee an answer by economic means, political means and, if necessary, other means. Our American friends should understand it."
Medvedev's harsh tone was in stark contrast to previous statements by President Vladimir Putin and his lieutenants, who took a casual stance as they talked about US sanctions and other Western sanctions, trying to minimize their impact on 39, Russian economy.
The announcement of new US sanctions has rocked the Russian currency and the stock exchanges. The ruble fell to its lowest level since August 2016 in early trading on Friday.
Russia-U.S. ties have fallen to their lowest level since the Cold War due to tensions over Ukraine, the war in Syria and accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential election of 2016.
Russia's hopes for ties better with the United States under President Donald Trump have withered as his administration has introduced several waves of sanctions against Russia.
Medvedev said that while the United States says that the restrictions aim to punish Russia's "bad" behavior, their real goal is to overshadow a rival.
remove Russia as a strong competitor on the international stage, "he said.
Medvedev stressed US efforts to block the planned construction of a new Russian gas pipeline for Germany, in order to encourage gas sales American liquefied natural gas in Europe as an example of "unfair competition".