The deterioration between the United States and Russia continues to grow, as Washington imposed a new batch of sanctions on Moscow over the alleged poisoning in March of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Solsbery, England.
“Today’s step is an important but moderate set of sanctions,” said Peter Harrell, an Obama administration official familiar with sanctions, according to reporting by The New York Times. More sanctions are expected to be piled on, in about three months.
The Skripal scandal led to widespread criticism of Moscow in the spring throughout western capitals. The British parliament had immediately accused Russia of an assassination attempt by using the Russian-made Novichok (“newcomer”) nerve agent. The Kremlin has maintained it did not poison the Skripals, which resulted in the expulsion of diplomats and sanctions.
The current round of American sanctions targets foreign aid, sans urgent humanitarian, food and other agricultural support. There is also a restriction on selling to Russia anything related to national security purposes, like gas turbine engines, electronics, integrated circuits, and testing and calibration equipment.
Access to any U.S. financial institutions whatsoever seem to be on the horizon, if not already included in some form in the current round of measures, such as prohibiting the issuance of loans to Russian legal entities as well as restricting the import and export of certain goods.
Russian officials have repeatedly stated that the Skripal poisoning is just another way for the West to demonize Moscow.
“It should be pointed out that the U.S. sanction policy has a notable impact on the economic situation in Russia,” Denis Denisov, Director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology, told Caspian News. “At the same time, Russia has no real mechanisms to reply its American partners in a symmetric way.”
“It is anticipated that in case of continuation of the U.S. sanctions policy, the Russian ruble exchange rate will be weakened, as well as investments from the Russian economy will continue to outflow,” forecasted Denisov.
On August 9, Russia’s official currency, the ruble, dropped to its lowest rate against the U.S. dollar over the past two years, in anticipation of the sanctions and the announcement that new ones could be piled on by November.
In response to a possible second wave of sanctions, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that such a move would cross a red line and would result in prompt economic measures from Russia.
“If something like a ban on bank operations or currency use follows, it will amount to a declaration of economic war,” the prime minister said, according to Business Insider.