The US Congress has voted to impose fresh energy sanctions on Russia, prompting the Kremlin to label the measures as “reckless” and “insane”.
Last week Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the threat of more sanctions as “racketeering” and warned of “harmful consequences” if they were enacted.
“We consider this unacceptable and believe that such actions could go against the universally recognised rules of international trade,” Peskov said.
Moscow would consider retaliatory measures in response, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said, according to Kremlin mouthpiece Tass.
And he said no prospects for better US relations could be seen.
“In my opinion, things are bad enough and prospects [for better ties] cannot be expected. Let us see what the sanctions will be like and then we will decide how to respond,” the aide said.
US senators have introduced the bill to step up sanctions on Russia over its meddling in the 2016 US election and invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions would target Russian banks, the cyber sector, sovereign debt, individuals and oil and gas sector exports, potentially affecting numerous European firms with heavy investments in Russia.
The Kremlin relies on oil and gas to fund more than a third of its budget.
But the bill now requires Donald Trump’s signature and his previous reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia has angered senators from both parties.
Trump’s administration in January lifted sanctions on three Russian firms linked to controversial Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. The US State Department has also delayed the imposition of further sanctions after
Russia failed to prove that it was not using chemical weapons, after the 2018 Skripal poison attacks in the English city of Salisbury.
Veteran Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told the official “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin” television programme that fresh sanctions were a blunder by Washington.
“I did not warn, I just said that this is senseless, nothing else. I said that the goal of this move is unclear. If they did not understand that the sanctions are not working, I feel sorry for them,” Lavrov said, according to Tass.
Russia has faced numerous international sanctions for election meddling, poisoning dissidents, invading Ukraine and fomenting conflict Syria.
The combined effect of these measures has reduced economic growth and investment in Russia.
Russia, however, says it has already adjusted to sanctions, is on target to achieve 2-per-cent growth and has been upgraded by the three major ratings agencies.
Moscow warns that further measures will damage the US, forcing Russia, China and other countries to stop holding US dollars. Russia says this process has already begun.
Russian gas and oil exports provide a large slice of the Kremlin’s budget. Picture credit: YouTube