02:03 GMT +324 January 2020
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    Moscow's Response to US' Seizure of Russian Diplomatic Property, Expulsion of Diplomats (37)

    Moscow is not ruling out any steps in retaliation to US sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow and also offered the US to cut down the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people by September 1. Moreover, the ministry said that it reserves the reciprocal right to hit US interests in response to the US sanctions bill.

    "We are not ruling out any steps to bring overweening Russophobes to their senses, who are setting the tone on the Capitol Hill and are dictating such decisions," the Russian diplomat said.

    "What has been done now is a response to the illegal unlawful actions of the United States, and primarily a response to the anti-Russian mayhem in the US Congress," Ryabkov pointed out.

    Ryabkov said that Russia's set of measures in response to US sanctions is not limited to the reduced number of US diplomatic staff and the seizure of US diplomatic property in Moscow.

    Russia restores parity violated by Washington by its countermeasures to limit US diplomatic staff numbers, he said.

    "This is the amount that Russia currently has in its overseas offices in the United States. In other words, we are restoring parity, which for a long time was violated by the US and was by and large unfair," Ryabkov said.

    Russia warned the US against attempts to escalate the situation, Ryabkov said, adding that Moscow will respond with tit-for-tat measures if pressure continues.

    "We warn Washington against attempts to use this situation to further ignite… this spiral of measures and countermeasures," Ryabkov said.

    "If they try to put pressure on us again by implementing some kind of measures, then response measures will follow, mirror steps from our side, asymmetric ones."

    US sanctions are a means of intimidation the entire world and Russia will never submit to these measures, Ryabkov emphasized. He said that the US sanctions bill is aimed to complicate the work of Russian companies to gain competitive advantage.

    "Russia will never bow to these kind of methods. We are for international law, for a fair and consistent finding of solutions to global probelms that can only be found together," Ryabkov said.

    "The US… resorts to illegitimate and illegal methods, trying to gain competitive advantages. This bill comprises a whole set to measures aimed at hampering normal functioning of… Russian… companies in very different fields. This draft legislation is a means of scaring the whole world with consequences of disobedience, consequences of lack of readiness to follow the track of US politics, follow Washington’s political will… Russia will never submit to such tricks."

    "We already see signs of concern and worry over such US policies, policies of dictate and forcing its will upon the rest of the international community," Ryabkov added.

    The Russian diplomat also said that Moscow regrets US policy which hampers the normalization of bilateral ties, however, Russia is not giving up hope on a dialogue with Washington.

    "Nevertheless, I emphasize that Russia does not abandon dialogue and interaction with the US where it is possible," Ryabkov said.

    "We do not succumb to emotions. We will be consistently firm, defending our interests, while at the same time seeking solutions to existing issues," Ryabkov said.

    Russia's patience has run out with the United States' conditions for the return of Russian diplomatic property it seized in December, he said. He underscored that the diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland had full diplomatic immunity and were illegally seized by the Obama administration.

    "We waited seven months, tomorrow marks exactly seven months. The return of this property did not happen. They were attempting to put forward all manner of unacceptable conditions and, as a result, our patience has run out," Ryabkov said.

    Ryabkov also handed on Friday to US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft notifications regarding the decisions on numbers of staff members and US diplomatic property.

    The US Senate approved a bill in a 98-2 vote on Thursday to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea and limit US President Donald Trump's ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow. The bill passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 419 to 3. The measures target Russia's defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries, and restrict dealings with Russian banks and energy companies.

    On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is behaving patiently amid sanctions, but time will come when Moscow will be forced to respond to arrogance, adding that if adopted, the US anti-Russia sanctions bill would be an "extra-cynical move."

    In December 2016, the administration of former US President Barack Obama imposed a set of punitive measures against Russia, including the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closure of the two Russian diplomatic compounds. The actions were taken in response to Moscow's alleged interference in the US presidential election, which Russia has repeatedly denied.

    Back in December, Putin decided not to respond to sanctions imposed by the outgoing US administration and act in accordance with the ties built with the new US leadership. However, since then, the diplomatic property hasn't been returned. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow would take retaliatory measures against Washington if the situation with Russia's diplomatic property in the United States was not resolved.

    Moscow's Response to US' Seizure of Russian Diplomatic Property, Expulsion of Diplomats (37)


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