Moscow to treat new US sanctions as act of economic war

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Moscow's strategy of trying to improve battered U.S. -Russia ties by attempting to build bridges with President Donald Trump is backfiring after U.S. lawmakers launched a new sanctions drive last week because they fear Trump is too soft on Russian Federation.

The U.S. State Department announced the new punitive measures on Wednesday for the Kremlin's alleged involvement in a nerve agent attack in Britain, saying the U.S. had made the determination this week that Russia used the Novichok nerve agent to poison former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

The sanctions were imposed under the provisions of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which mandates that once the government has determined that a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of worldwide law or even made "substantial preparations" to do so, sanctions must be imposed.

Although the United States joined European countries in publicly blaming Moscow within days of the attack, the Trump administration never issued a formal triggering of sanctions under its decades-old U.S. law on chemical weapons.

At a press conference, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova says: "Talks (with Russia) from the positions of force and with an ultimative language are useless and have no prospects".

"And to this war, we will have to react by economic, political, and, in case of necessity, other methods".

"If they dream up some (measures), we will answer - it's not our choice".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was equally emphatic.

However, he added that "Moscow retains hopes of building constructive relations with Washington".

Central bank data showed on Friday it had started buying less foreign currency on Wednesday, the first day of the rouble's slide, to try to tamp down volatility. And our American friends need to understand this, ' he said, speaking on a trip to the Russian Far East.

He said the countries were now in a state "balancing on the verge of war".

A former Defense Department official, Mark Simakovsky, said Wednesday that a second tranche would target Russian exports to the U.S. and theoretically could include restrictions on flights by the state airline Aeroflot as well as a downgrade of diplomatic relations.

The first package of sanctions bans exports of sensitive national security goods to Russian Federation.

Such technologies have often been used in items such as electronic devices and calibration equipment. The exports were previously allowed on a case-by-case basis.

Proposed U.S. legislation prepared by several senators calls on Trump to widen the sanctions further to include virtually all Russian energy projects and effectively bar Western companies from any involvement in the country.

Medvedev's tough tone was in stark contrast with past statements by President Vladimir Putin and his lieutenants, who have taken a nonchalant posture while talking about USA and other Western sanctions, seeking to downplay their impact on the Russian economy.

Yesterday's announcement comes months after Congress made a formal request for Mr Trump to determine that Russian Federation had violated worldwide law. Washington ordered 60 diplomats to leave and closed the Russian consulate general in Seattle.

The Guardian this week reported the Government is set to submit an extradition request to Moscow for two Russians suspected of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Three months later, Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after they came into contact with the substance, which was found in a sealed perfume bottle.

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