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Commenting on sanctions, Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry urges U.S. and EU ‘not to play with fire’

“The US Administration, teamed up with the EU, has made a hostile move towards Russia by announcing new sanctions ‘to punish Moscow’,” said Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on the night of Tuesday, March 2. 

This comment, published on the ministry’s website, came after the European Union and the United States announced new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, in response to the poisoning and persecution of opposition politician Alexey Navalny, who is currently serving time in a penal colony. 

In her comment, Zakharova maintained that Navalny’s case was just a pretext:

“Absurdity triumphs when the reason behind the sanctions is based on Alexey Navalny’s alleged ‘poisoning’ with some toxic ‘chemical warfare’ agent. This is just a pretext for the continuing undisguised interference in our domestic affairs, and we will not accept this. Based on the principle of reciprocity, we will respond but not necessarily with symmetrical measures.”

According to Zakharova, the White House’s policy towards Russia is “increasingly aggravating bilateral relations that Washington has already brought to a complete halt.”

“Any hopes to impose something on Russia by way of sanctions or other pressure have failed in the past and will fail now. If the U.S. is not ready for an equitable and reasonable dialogue, this is their choice. Regardless of the U.S.’s enthusiasm for sanctions we will continue to consistently and resolutely uphold our national interests and rebuff any aggression. We urge our colleagues not to play with fire.”

On March 2, the European Union imposed personal sanctions on Russia’s Attorney General Igor Krasnov; Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin; National Guard Chief Viktor Zolotov; and Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) Director Alexander Kalashnikov.

In turn, the United States also sanctioned Krasnov and Kalashnikov, as well as a number of other Russian officials who were added to the EU’s sanctions list in the fall of 2020: the first deputy head of Putin’s administration, Sergey Kirienko; FSB director Alexander Bortnikov; deputy defense ministers Alexey Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov; and the head of the Presidential Executive Office’s domestic policy department, Andrey Yarin.

Three Russian research institutes were also placed under U.S. sanctions.

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