US aims to disrupt Russia’s internal affairs with sanctions before elections – Deputy FM

A new round of sanctions likely to be imposed on Moscow by Washington will be an obvious attempt to disrupt Russian internal affairs ahead of the presidential elections, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister has said.

“We see this as yet another attempt to influence our internal affairs, especially ahead of the presidential election,” Deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov told TASS on Saturday.

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FILE PHOTO: Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) © Mark Wilson

The sanctions are expected to follow the presentation of two Trump administration reports in Congress at end of January, according to Ryabkov. “One of the reports will apparently include a list of individuals who might be targeted with the American sanctions, and the other as we believe, will encompass the effectiveness of the sanctions already in place,” he said.

The reports are the latest step in the implementation of the ‘Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ signed by US President Donald Trump last August. Sanctions imposed at that time targeted a range of entities and individuals – namely Russian weapon manufacturers, banks and the energy sector, as well as those the US accuses of meddling with the 2016 presidential elections.

The reports have already been preceded by a document titled ‘Putin’s asymmetric assault on democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for US national security,’ which was published on Wednesday. The report has reiterated virtually all the rumors and conspiracy theories about alleged Kremlin activities, citing a number of media outlets and individuals well-known for their strong anti-Russian bias as “sources.” 

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FILE PHOTO © Joshua Roberts

The tone of the report, commissioned by US Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), who is a strong backer of many anti-Russia initiatives, clearly shows the “level of the anti-Russian discourse in Washington,” Ryabkov said.

“The 200-page opus by the Democrats, which has emerged recently, contains page by page anti-Russian slogans and clichés. It’s overfilled with anger and poison,” the official said. Although Moscow takes note, it will not fall to “that low and dishonorable behavior.”

Russia, however, is already preparing its response to the expected sanctions. Although it is unclear whether it would be “a mirror, tit-for-tat or any other response,” the final decision “is to be taken by the Russian President in due time,” according to Ryabkov.

“Using the US language, I’d like to say we have all the options on the table,” the official added. “We’ll seek the most effective means to react to the unfolding events without harming our own interests and without shutting down the possibility for gradual normalizing of the Russia-US relations.”

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