US sanctions on Russia for malign activity


US President Donald Trump’s sanctions on Russia will be met with a harsh response, Moscow says.The US has imposed major sanctions against 24 Russians, striking at allies of President Vladimir Putin in one of Washington’s most aggressive moves to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US election and other “malign activity”.

The action, taken on Friday under pressure from the US Congress, freezes the US assets of oligarchs such as aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Putin, and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, whose family controls Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus.

The sanctions largely respond to what US intelligence agencies have said was Russian interference in the presidential election, although the Treasury Department painted them as a response to a series of adversarial actions by Moscow.

US President Donald Trump has been under fire for not taking strong action against Russia after a series of diplomatic disputes reminiscent of the Cold War era. The sanctions could complicate his hopes for good relations with Putin.

The latest move is aimed at seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, plus 17 senior Russian government officials. They freeze the US assets of the people and companies named and forbid Americans in general from doing business with them.

Moscow said on Friday it would respond firmly to the new US sanctions.

“Of course we will not leave this current and any new anti-Russian attack without a harsh answer,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “But first of all we would like to recommend that Washington discard illusions that we can be spoken to in the language of sanctions.”

The ministry said no pressure could make Russia change course and that the sanctions would only unite Russian society.

“Having not waited for the desired effect of previous sanctions, Washington politicians have reached such absurdity that they are trying to hit our companies that have long maintained business ties with the United States, on which thousands of jobs depend there,” the statement said.

Russia’s relations with the United States have further soured recently as Washington expelled Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain and imposed sanctions on Russians for alleged links to cyber attacks.

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