Russia's leading diplomat in charge of relations with the US has called Washington’s policy of sanctions “a new offensive strategic weapon”, and warned that Russia was preparing a response, albeit not a mirror one.
“Sanctions, both declared and undeclared, are being used against a wider circle of countries and on a wider scale. I have an impression that the Washington power circles had come to the conclusion that it is sometimes simpler and cheaper to impose sanctions on some nation than use a conventional military force against it,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in an interview with the influential business daily Kommersant.
“We are sticking to the decision not to let ourselves get dragged into a new arms race, and we are not going to make any mirror replies to such steps. Still, we have to look for an antidote. There must be a defensive weapon for every offensive weapon. We are working on it now,” the Russian diplomat added.
Ryabkov told the newspaper that presently the United States had wrapped up all tried and effective formats of cooperation and dialogue with Russia – like the bilateral presidential commission or the dialogue on economic issues. He said that such steps were quite unexpected because they came from a country that had once declared the priority of a free market and only allows light touch regulation.
Now, the United States is turning the market into a tool of its foreign policy and using banned schemes that have nothing in common with economic effectiveness. All of this is driven by the geopolitical task of containment or even a throwback for the nations the United States is not happy with, the deputy minister stated. “These are methods of the past, the very old past. If they are using these methods their foreign policy arsenal must be not very rich,” he added.
Speaking of the possible reasons of such a situation, the Russian diplomat said that it was mainly Washington’s inability to accept the reality. “The USA holds that they won the Cold War and Russia – as a successor of the Soviet Union – had lost. Then they make a conclusion that Moscow must succumb and behave like a junior partner in international relations and in common projects with the USA,” Ryabkov said.
“In essence, they reject the very possibility of us having any national interests. They reject the possibility of a model of values that is different from the one used by the USA and other Western countries,” the Russian official said.
The new sanction-related row between Russia and the United States lingers from mid-March this year. The US (and later the EU and some US allies, like Canada or Australia have imposed sanctions against about 40 Russian citizens and several companies they allege are responsible for the current crisis in Ukraine.
The Russian parliament discussed the possibility of counter sanctions but has not yet taken any steps in this direction. On the other hand, when international card operators Visa and MasterCard refused to process the operations of some Russian banks under the pretense of sanctions, Russia changed its laws and demanded all major credit and debit card operators make a deposit with the Central Bank allowing uninterrupted operations in case of emergencies.
Visa and MasterCard threatened to quit the Russian market over the cost but eventually chose to stay and observe the new rules.