Putin Deems New US Sanctions against Russia ‘Special Cynicism’ as Moscow Hit over Ukraine, Election Meddling
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that if the bill on new US sanctions against Russia is adopted, that would constitute “special cynicism”.
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives of the US Congress approved almost unanimously a draft law to impose new sanctions on Russia as well as on North Korea and Iran.
Before that, over the past weekend, key members of the US Congress announced the Senate and the House of Representatives had struck a deal for new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and for empowering the American legislature to block potential sanctions easing by President Donald Trump.
This development comes amid simmering diplomatic tensions between the US and Russia. It is also against the backdrop of continuing investigations by both houses of the US Congress and the FBI into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US elections and the Trump team’s possible collusion with Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov already stated that Russia viewed the new draft law at the US Congress “extremely negatively”.
Last week, after a long-anticipated bilateral format meeting with US Under Secretary of State, Thomas Shannon, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the United States would not lift immediately sanctions imposed on Russia even if Moscow met the West’s demands.
Prior to that, other top Russian officials piled criticism on the US for the seizing of two Russian compounds on US soil, a measure taken at the end of the Obama Administration justified with intelligence information that Moscow tried to meddle in the 2016 US elections.
In early June 2017, the US government denied reports it had reached an agreement with Russia to return to it the two diplomatic compounds in question — one in Maryland and one in New York.
At the end of December 2016, after receiving intelligence information that Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in the US elections through hacking attacks, then US President Barack Obama imposed sanctions against Russia’s intelligence apparatus.
Those sanctions were in addition to prior sanctions imposed on Moscow by the US, the EU, and other Western governments since 2014 over Russia’s encroachments against Ukraine, namely, the annexation of the Crimea, and the war in Donbass.
In June 2017, the US introduced new sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and Crimea, which Moscow called a “pointless” move.
If the US adopted new anti-Russian sanctions, that would be an obvious attempt by Washington to use its geopolitical advantages in a competitive struggle, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday during a state visit to Finland, as cited by state-run news agency TASS.
“If it is really the case [i.e. the approval of sanctions], this arouses deep regrets because such actions imply aggravating circumstances and special cynicism,” Putin said at a press conferences after talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
“Because this is an obvious attempt to use geopolitical advantages in competition to pursue its economic interests at the expense of its allies,” the Russian leader declared, apparently referring to the EU’s concerns over the newly proposed US sanctions on Russia.
“As for the transborder nature of the US legislation, I have been talking about it for a long time – way back in 2007, in Munich [at the Munich Security Conference] I talked about it, that’s exactly what I said,” Vladimir Putin recalled.
“This practice is unacceptable; it destroys international relations and international law. We have never agreed with this and will not agree. How other states in the world react to this, it depends on the degree of their sovereignty and their readiness to defend their own national interests,” he added.
The decision regarding Russia’s response measures to new US sanctions will be made only after a final version of the relevant US bill appears, Putin said.
“We have not seen the final version yet and therefore we are keeping our opinion open in this aspect. The response [to sanctions] will depend on the final form of the law currently discussed in [the US] Senate that we will see,” Russia’s President stated.
“Attempts to provoke us have constantly been made over a long period of time,” Putin added, arguing that sanctions introduced against Russia are illegal without mentioning the Western justification for the sanctions, namely, Moscow’s encroachments against Ukraine.
“[The sanctions against Russia] are also absolute unlawful from the viewpoint of internal law and violate principles of international trade and rules of the World Trade Organization,” Putin stated.
“As you know, we are behaving very calmly and patiently but we will have to respond at a certain point. It is impossible to constantly tolerate loutish behavior towards our country,” he said.
Commenting on a probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, Putin said he did not consider it a proper investigation which should imply “investigation of all circumstances, investigation into causes, hearing different parties”.
“What we are seeing is just growing anti-Russian hysteria, more likely this is the use of anti-Russian instruments in domestic political fight – of President Trump and his political rivals inside the United States,” Putin said.
“It is deeply regrettable that the Russian-US relations fell victim to the US internal political disputes,” he continued.
The Russian President declared his hopes that Russian-US relations would be fixed, and bilateral cooperation would be stepped up.
“We do know that we have many friends in the United States. We know that there are very many reasonably-minded people there,” Putin concluded.