Moscow has threatened retaliation after the United States and the European Union imposed coordinated sanctions on several Russian officials and government agencies on March 2 over the chemical poisoning, arrest and detention of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
Under the new sanctions, accounts in the US and the EU will be frozen and visas will not be available to high-ranking officials close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the list of sanctioned persons published by the US Treasury Department, they are: Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the Russian Federal Security Service, Igor Krasnov, Prosecutor General of Russia, Alexander Kalashnikov, Director of the Penitentiary Department, Deputy Chief of Staff Deputy Sergei Kiriyenko and Deputy Head of Administration for Internal Policy Andrei Yarin.
Two of them, Alexander Kalashnikov and Igor Krasnov, were subject to EU sanctions. In addition, two other Russian officials have been barred from entering the bloc and all assets in the bloc will be frozen: Russia’s National Guard chief, Viktor Zolotov, and Alexander Bastrykin, chairman of the commission of inquiry into allegations of human rights abuses .
While being treated in Germany, local and other independent experts determined that Navalny had been poisoned by a Russian-made chemical weapons, the Novichok, which Russia denies.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the imposition of sanctions on Russia over Alexei Navalny chemical weapons poisoning a “deliberate provocation.” “All this is an excuse to continue undisguised interference in our internal affairs. We are not going to get used to it, “he said, referring to US and EU sanctions.
U.S. sanctions were also imposed on the 33rd Central Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the 27th Scientific Center, and the Russian State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology.
What will painful sanctions cost Russia?
The rhetoric of the Russian authorities means that the Kremlin is not going to acknowledge the use of chemical weapons. In that case, the United States would be obliged to impose a second round of sanctions on Russia in three months, which, according to The Bell, would be even more painful for the Russian economy.
The administration of US President Joe Biden, which is not going to get used to the fact that Russia is using chemical weapons, will have the opportunity to choose at least three of the six measures provided for in the second phase of sanctions in June.
According to the Russian service of Radio Liberty, among them is the ban on lending to Russian state structures by US banks.
This may mean the cessation of operations by these banks with Russian government securities, ie the state debt of the Russian Federation will be subject to sanctions. In 2019, such sanctions have already been imposed on Russia over the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the UK by those close to Russian intelligence with the poison of the same “Novichok” group, but in a light form, ie Russian Eurobonds traded on the secondary market and Russian loans issued in the form of federal loans were not banned. Thus, the overall economic effect of the sanctions was then mitigated for Russia.
In June, things may turn out differently, especially in the wake of President Joe Biden’s statement that “the days when the United States turned a blind eye to Russia’s aggression, interference in the US election, cyberattacks and poisoning of citizens are a thing of the past.”
It is worth noting that to fill the 2021 budget deficit, the government of the Russian Federation intends to borrow 3.8 trillion rubles. So, the second stage of US sanctions may be quite painful for Russia.
The United States has welcomed the imposition of sanctions on Russia by the United States and the European Union.
According to British Foreign Secretary Dominique Raab, London “will continue to work closely with international partners to hold Russia accountable for failing to meet its commitments on human rights and chemical weapons.”
The next target – Russian oligarchs
Alexei Navalny, founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, who was poisoned in Russia in late August 2020 with a substance from the Novichok group, returned to Moscow on January 17 after four months of treatment in Germany. Navalny was arrested at the airport and sentenced to 30 days in jail on January 18.
On February 2, a Moscow court sentenced Alexei Navalny to life imprisonment. The previous conviction in connection with the Yves Rocher case was replaced by a real sentence. He has to spend another 2 years and 5 months in prison.
Despite harsh criticism from the international community, Russia added a sentence to a convicted Kremlin critic two weeks ago. On February 20, another court found an anti-corruption activist and critic of the Kremlin guilty of defamation of a World War II veteran. Navalny was fined 850,000 rubles ($ 11,500) as part of the defamation sentence.
Two days ago it became known that the convict Alexei Navalny was taken from Moscow in stages to the Vladimir region, where he is in one of the isolator cells with prisoners convicted of theft and fraud.
And while Navalny remains in custody, the organization he founded hopes to include other Russian officials and oligarchs in the list of sanctions in the future by the United States and the European Union.
According to Maria Pevchikhi, the head of the fund’s investigation department, the West does not fully understand “how closely the Putin regime is linked to the money of these oligarchs.”
Earlier, Navalny’s comrade-in-arms Vladimir Ashurov sent a list of 35 people to US President Joe Biden. The Anti-Corruption Fund believes that the United States should impose sanctions on them as well. The list includes not only government officials who may have links to Navalny’s poisoning, but also businessmen from Putin’s entourage, namely billionaires Alisher Usmanov and Roman Abramovich. Navalny has repeatedly said he supports the introduction of Western sanctions against oligarchs who gain significant assets outside Russia.
The Bloomberg news agency reported on March 5 that the United States and Britain were considering extending sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s use of chemical weapons. Among other measures are considered businessmen close to the Russian president, the so-called. Introduce sanctions against the oligarchs, or enact measures of an economic nature, such as imposing sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt.
The news has alarmed the Kremlin, as evidenced by a comment by Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“Sanctions against Russian businessmen have not been imposed yet, and we certainly hope that such meaningless calls will remain only in the media and will not find, so to speak, vital ground in the official US establishment,” Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg. .
But even the official Russian media can not hide the fact that the exchange rate of the Russian ruble fell sharply last night amid reports of expected new sanctions. Russia’s national currency continued to depreciate against the dollar overnight and, as of Friday morning, the dollar was trading at 74.9 rubles instead of the previous day’s 73.9 rubles.
In addition to the first and second waves of sanctions, the United States is preparing for another round of sanctions against Russia.
According to the Guardian, these sanctions will be announced in a few weeks. The introduction of additional restrictive measures will be in response to a massive hacking attack on at least nine US federal agencies – including the Pentagon – using SolarWinds software. Microsoft says it has obtained “substantial evidence” that “Russian intelligence” was involved in the attack. According to other sources, the new sanctions may be based on Russia’s interference in the 2020 US presidential election and the information spread by the Western media, according to which the Russian special services offered a reward to extremists for the killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that any new sanctions by the United States would not achieve its goal and would only complicate the already strained relations between the two countries. Russia also threatens retaliatory sanctions.
“If we consider how he behaves [აშშ] Now, how they were published [სანქციების] The list, I think, will surprise them soon too. “We are working on it,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on March 5.