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Russia attacks U.S. sanctions, mulls responses

Staff Writer |
Russia on Monday blasted the U.S. sanctions over an alleged poison attack on a former Russian spy, saying Moscow will "withstand" and respond to Washington's "brute pressure."

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a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Russian embassy to the United States said the sanctions that took effect on the same day were "hostile," "illegitimate" and "one-sided."

"Decisions are made with zero attempts to look into things, while ignoring our calls for dialogue, in absence of any real proof of 'Russia's guilt,'" it said, accusing the U.S. mainstream media of spreading "absurd accusations against our country."

"It feels like local politicians have an unhealthy craving for demolishing the fundamental basis of bilateral relations, on which rests the global security," it said, noting that U.S. "political elites seem to ignore the fact that every new 'seizure' of American sanctions 'fever' brings the U.S. close to the point of no return in resolving pressing international issues - joint fight against terrorism and danger of WMD falling into the hands of non-governmental entities."

"It is clear that the worst Cold War scenarios, the ones the world should have forsaken 30 years ago, are now taking shape. Instead, it turns out that no one is safe from brute pressure of Washington," the embassy said, adding that "the U.S. public has to know that sanctions against Russia are futile. They meet the interests of neither Russian, nor American people."

"Not everyone can withstand it. But Russia can," it said, referring to U.S. punishment actions. "We do not accept Washington's hostile sanctions. They will have no effect on our determination to follow our own course in international relations."

Also on the same day, the Kremlin was quoted by media as saying that it needed time to assess the impact of U.S. sanctions before considering retaliatory response, but President Vladimir Putin would act in line with Russia's national interest.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was quoted by media outlets as saying that Russia has drawn up a group of response in case Washington imposes sanctions on Russian sovereign debt.

On Monday, the U.S. Federal Register said in a notice that U.S. sanctions came into effect on the same day.

The Department of State has determined that "the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical weapons in violation of international law or lethal chemical weapons against its own nationals," it said.

U.S. foreign assistance, the licensing of defense articles and services, and the licensing of national security-sensitive goods and technology concerning effort to Russia would be banned.

Russia will also be denied of "any credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government, including the Export-Import Bank of the United States."

However, the notice read that the Department of State "has determined and certified to Congress... that it is essential to the national security interests of the United States to partially waive the application of the sanctions."

This included the issuance of licenses in support of government space cooperation and commercial space launches, the safety of flight of civil fixed-wing passenger aviation, and transactions with Russian nationals, wholly-owned U.S. subsidiaries in Russia, and Russian state-owned or state-funded enterprises, "provided that such licenses shall be issued on a case-by-case basis."

"These measures shall be implemented by the responsible departments and agencies of the United States Government and will remain in place for at least one year and until further notice," said Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state, in the notice.

Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, aged 66, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in Britain's southwestern city of Salisbury on March 4. Britain claimed the pair was exposed to a nerve agent and holds Russia responsible, while the Russian government has denied any involvement in it.

The U.S. State Department said on Aug. 8 that the country will impose new sanctions on Russia over the case.

"These sanctions will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

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