A package of new travel and financial restrictions unveiled by the US and the EU this week are toothless and will have little to no impact at all on Russian officials targeted by them, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary insisted that the measures enacted against four high-ranking legal and civil state employees were effectively redundant. “If you look at the people on whom these restrictions have been imposed,” he said, “this is actually a duplication of those restrictions that they are already subject to under Russian law.”
According to him, those officials “do not travel abroad anyway, do not have the right to open accounts in foreign banks [or] to own property abroad.” Russia has tough rules governing the relationships of state employees, particularly those in sensitive political or military posts, with other countries.
The measures from Brussels and Washington were announced simultaneously on Tuesday. The EU published a list of four Russians that would face sanctions in response to the alleged poisoning of anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny and “human rights violations” in the policing of subsequent protests held by his supporters.
Those affected are Alexander Kalashnikov, the director of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service; Alexander Bastrykin, the chairman of the country’s Investigative Committee; Igor Krasnov, the country’s prosecutor general; and Viktor Zolotov, the director of the National Guard and head of Russia’s elite riot police. The same names are thought to be on an, as of yet, unpublished US equivalent list.
Asked why the West hadn’t introduced harsher measures against sensitive areas of the Russian economy, public debt or big business, Peskov said that he wasn’t interested in “interpreting their motivations.” Any sanctions, he said, are “absolutely unacceptable” as they “significantly harm the already deplorable relations with the US and the EU.”
The US’ package appeared to have gone a step further, in subjecting twelve foreign organizations to trade bans and other measures over claims they were involved in producing “chemical and biological weapons.”
Speaking on the same day as the sanctions were made public, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that Moscow would respond in kind. “We will react unequivocally,” the country’s top diplomat announced. “Nobody has canceled one of the main rules of diplomacy – reciprocity.”
Diplomatic spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced the move as “a hostile anti-Russian attack,” on Wednesday, adding that the country’s response would “not necessarily be symmetrical.”
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