Russia Condemns New US Sanctions as ‘Unlawful’

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The announcement of new US sanctions has rattled the Russian currency and stock markets.

But the punitive measures triggered a furious reaction from Moscow.

According to a statement by the six senators, the bill seeks to punish Russia for its "continued interference in our elections, malign influence in Syria, aggression in Crimea, and other activities" and targets investments in energy projects supported by the Russian government both in the country and overseas.

Moscow's hopes for better ties with Washington under President Donald Trump have withered as his administration has introduced waves of sanctions against Russian Federation.

On August 22, an initial restriction on exports of security-sensitive goods will come into force and, unless Russian Federation assures the USA that it has stopped using chemical weapons (which it denies in the first instance), more severe restrictions will be introduced 90 days later.

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Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and a former colonel in the Russian army, said the State Department's move looked like the latest salvo in what he called a hybrid war. Trump made no public comments on the matter, and communications aides referred all questions to the State Department, which said the USA still sought improved ties with Moscow.

"Following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018", she said.

A proposed bill in the Senate would ban investments in Russian energy projects, sovereign debt and national banks.

Russia's prime minister sternly warned the United States against ramping up sanctions, saying Friday that Moscow would retaliate with economic, political and unspecified "other" means. "But I can say one thing: if you follow something like the prohibition of banks or use a particular currency, it can be called absolutely right: it is a Declaration of economic war", he said.

With more Congressional pushes for yet more sanctions, Russian Federation issued a warning Friday that further sanctions amount to a "declaration of economic war" against Russian Federation. Russian Federation had become "accustomed to not hearing any facts or evidence", it said, adding: "We continue to strongly stand for an open and transparent investigation of the crime committed in Salisbury".

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The US sanctions came despite President Donald Trump's efforts to improve relations with Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, and his harsh criticism of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The new USA sanctions come amid increasing frustration with Trump's handling of Russian Federation, and how he apparently needed congressional prodding to impose the new penalties.

A second set of measures could be substantially broader and would be imposed if Moscow fails to meet a 90-day deadline to provide "reliable assurances" it will no longer use chemical weapons, allow on-site inspections by the United Nations or other worldwide observer groups, and respond to other USA demands.

He said Trump's tough actions are having an impact on Russian Federation, whose economy is already "in the toilet". Those could include denying Russian airlines landing rights in the United States and even severing diplomatic relations.

The Salisbury attack in March also coincides with other recent actions inside the USA that were similarly audacious, including intricate influence operations in both the 2016 and 2018 elections and a hack of the US energy grid.

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The Trump administration has aggressively used sanctions as a tool to deploy when diplomacy won't work.