Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Moscow will consider any new sanctions by the United States as a “declaration of economic war” and will retaliate in kind.
The US announced a new round of sanctions on Wednesday, following separate legislation introduced last week in draft form that proposes curbs on the operations of several state-owned Russian banks in the US and restrictions on their use of the dollar.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East on Thursday, the Russian premier said his country is not going to tolerate bans on its financial institutions.
“I would not like to comment on talk about future sanctions, but I can say one thing: If something like a ban on the operations of banks or on the one currency or another follows, it would be possible to completely directly call it a declaration of economic war,” Medvedev said.
“And it would be necessary…to react to this war economically, politically, or, if needed, by other means,” he said. “And our American friends need to understand this.”
The warning came a day after the US Department of State announced a new round of sanctions against Russia for a nerve agent attack against former Russian double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter in the UK.
Medvedev said Moscow would take economic, political or other retaliatory measures against the United States if Washington targeted Russian banks.
Washington and London have repeatedly accused Moscow of orchestrating the attack using the Russian nerve agent Novichok.
The United States has imposed new sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s alleged role in poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.
The US has already introduced several rounds of sanctions against the government of President Vladimir Putin for what it calls Russia’s meddling in the US Democratic process and its involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
US lawmakers bring ‘sanctions bill from hell’
A bipartisan group of US Senators in US Congress proposed a draft legislation earlier this month to impose further punitive measures against Russia, including restrictions against several state-owned banks and curbs on their use of the US dollar.
Among the senators was Lindsay Graham, a Republican, who said the bill’s proponents wanted to “impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyberattacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria.”
Graham went on to call the draft legislation a “sanctions bill from hell.”
The new US sanctions covered by the Wednesday announcement target export licenses of sensitive US technologies and industrial equipment, such as electronics, calibration equipment, and gas turbine engines and will enter into force around August 22.
Russia says a round of new sanctions imposed on Moscow by the United States over the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK are not based on evidence and are “draconian.”
Washington would impose a second set of measures that could be substantially broader if Moscow fails to meet a 90-day deadline to provide “reliable assurances” that it will no longer use chemical weapons while also responding to a set of other US demands.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called the new sanctions “categorically unacceptable” and “illegal.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called the sanctions an attempt to “demonize” Russia, pledging a response.