Russia shrugged off the impact of US and EU sanctions over the poisoning and imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, noting that it would retaliate with reciprocal measures.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would reciprocate in a way that best served its interests. “Of course it’s impossible not to apply the principle of reciprocity,” Reuters quoted Peskov as telling reporters. “We consider such decisions to be absurd, unjustified and most importantly, they have no effect or meaning,” he said. “We can only regret this and express our bewilderment.”
Peskov said, however, that the new US sanctions would have no effect on the senior officials targeted because they are not allowed to travel outside Russia, own property abroad or hold foreign bank accounts anyway because of the sensitivity of their positions. “This is practically a duplication of the restrictions these people face under Russian law, nothing more,” the news agency quoted Peskov as saying. Sanctions targeting the entities would have more of a material effect, he added. Regardless of their impact, Peskov warned that the sanctions would have a destructive effect on Russia’s relationship with the United States and the European Union.
Washington, on March 2, accused Russia’s FSB of orchestrating the poisoning of Navalny and announced its first sanctions against the Russian government.
US President Joe Biden has promised to push back against Russia’s actions and has set the tone by having the State Department issue a terse rebuke of the Kremlin.
“The United States joins the European Union in condemning and responding to the Russian Federation’s use of a chemical weapon in the attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny in August 2020 and his subsequent imprisonment in January 2021,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on March 2. “We share the EU’s concerns regarding Russia’s deepening authoritarianism and welcome the EU’s determination to impose sanctions on Russia under its new global human rights authorities,” he added.
“The US government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences. Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and contravenes international norms,” Blinken said, adding, “The United States has consistently characterized the legal offensive against Mr. Navalny as politically motivated, an assessment shared by our G7 partners and the European Court of Human Rights. We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Navalny”.