Russian Foreign Ministry promises not to leave new U.S. sanctions unanswered
The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed utter surprise at the new portion of anti-Russian sanctions that the U.S. administration introduced on Monday.
"Like before, the anti-Russian escapade will not be left unanswered. At the same time we are calling on U.S. politicians to stop the pointless game of sanctions that bring a zero result, and return to the grounds of common sense," the Russian Foreign Ministry's press and information department said in a statement late on Monday.
"We understand that such steps are a reflection of the domestic political crisis that has broken out in the U.S. and the Russian theme is being deliberately used as part of that by some of the Washington establishment as an instrument in pursuit of their own opportunistic goals," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary on new U.S. sanctions.
"But those officials succumbing to open Russophobes should realize that their actions are contradicting to the public statements of the U.S. leadership about the normalization of bilateral relations and aggravating tension on the international arena," it said.
The new sanctions "happen to apply to some arbitrarily-chosen Russian nationals, a Taiwanese citizen, a few for-profit organizations registered in the Seychelles, in Czech Republic, and in some other countries, and several aerial vehicles and sea vessels. It remains unclear what made Washington bureaucrats combine them all in one list and what kind of connection airplanes and motor ships may have with the alleged interference in U.S. elections," it said.
"Interestingly, for some reason, the restrictions are imposed on some persons for a second or a third time. It is unclear whether the authors of sanctions registers run out of imagination, or they have gotten tangled in their numerous lists," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
U.S. authorities earlier added three companies and two individuals linked to Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency to its sanctions lists. Autolex Transport Ltd, Beratex Group Limited, and Linburg Industries Ltd, as well as Denis Igorevich Kuzmin and Igor Vladimirovich Nesterov, were sanctioned. Both men were added to the sanctions lists for ties with the Internet Research Agency.
All those entities and individuals are now on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List.
The sanctions have also been introduced for the St. Vitamin, a vessel allegedly linked to Beratex Group Limited. In addition, the sanctions now apply to three aerial vehicles: M-SAAN (linked to Autolex Transport Ltd), RA-02791 (linked to Beratex Group Limited) and VP-CSP (linked to Linburg Industries Ltd).
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an official press statement that the latest sanctions are meant to ensure that Prigozhin and "others like him find no refuge or comfort as long as they carry out destabilizing activities that threaten the interests of the United States and its allies and partners."
Prigozhin, who is the chief executive officer at Concord Management and Consulting, according to SPARK Interfax, declined to comment on the new U.S. sanctions introduced against him for "efforts to Influence U.S. elections."
"The trial is under way in the U.S. as part of the case of the U.S. vs. Concord. Under the terms of the contract, I, as a member of the defense team, cannot give any comments on this issue," Prigozhin is quoted by the Concord press service as saying to Interfax.
Concord Management and Consulting was one of the three companies U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused of pursuing a campaign in social media in order to influence public opinion during the U.S. presidential election of 2016.
Concord lawyers said that the U.S. prosecution also claimed that there existed a connection between the campaign allegedly pursued in social media ahead of the U.S. presidential election and Russian authorities. However, Mueller's final verdict of 2018 said nothing about such a link between Russian authorities and the alleged campaign.
The U.S. Department of Justice published a document in February 2018 accusing 13 Russian nationals of meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Three legal entities, specifically, Prigozhin's Internet Research Agency, Concord Management and Consulting, and Concord Catering, were mentioned in the document.