Destabilizing speculation

Russia vows retaliation, summons US envoy over new sanctions, as NATO, EU back Biden’s move to target country’s national debt

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it would react in kind soon to a new sanctions package unveiled against the country by US President Joe Biden, with Washington also expelling ten of Moscow’s diplomats.

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the ministry, told reporters that the reprisals against this decision were “inevitable,” and that the American Ambassador, John Sullivan, had been summoned to “Difficult discussions.” She said, “I hardly would have said this before, but I can say it now: it won’t be a pleasant meeting for him.”

Biden signed the decree Thursday morning, introducing sanctions against more than 30 Russian individuals and organizations for allegations Moscow meddled in the 2020 US presidential election and was behind the colossal SolarWinds cyberespionage affair. that has seen hackers gain access to over 100 companies. networks, as well as nine US government agencies. The Kremlin has denied accusations that it was involved in both cases.

The new measures include a ban on U.S. financial institutions from directly purchasing Russian sovereign debt, which is traditionally used by governments to consolidate their economies.

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Just a few weeks ago, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin warned that the United States could resort to the attack on bonds as part of the “A deliberate calculation to create a toxic atmosphere around Russian securities in order to reduce their investment potential.” He revealed that Moscow was already working on creating a battle plan to limit the effect of such sanctions on the economy.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan defended the move later Thursday, saying the sanctions package included “Proportionate measures to defend American interests in response to harmful Russian actions, including cyber-intrusions and electoral interference.” State Department spokesman Ned Price also tweeted that “We are sending a clear message to Moscow” with the new measures.

However, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, responded by saying that “Now is our turn to ‘hold the United States to account’ for promoting unsubstantiated allegations and hostile maneuvers. This is how it works in diplomacy. “

Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the Russian State Duma, said the measures demonstrated that the “The whole arsenal of accusations has been exhausted and the United States is going in circles.” He added that “By imposing sanctions, they are punishing themselves. Ultimately, they will have to build relationships that they themselves have destroyed. “

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In response to the news, the US-led NATO military bloc said its members “Support and express their solidarity” with Washington, and warned that “Russia continues to adhere to a recurring pattern of destabilizing behavior.” The declaration concluded that its constituent nations “Will continue to work in close consultation on how to respond to Russian actions which pose a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell added his voice to those supporting Biden’s decision. “We share the concerns of our partners regarding the growing number of malicious cyber activities”, said the former Spanish foreign minister. “All actors must refrain from any irresponsible and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace.”

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