The speaker of the Russian upper house of parliament, Valentina Matvienko, said today that Russia’s response to U.S. sanctions will be “targeted and painful,” Reuters reported, quoting Moscow news agencies.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration issued an expanded list of sanctions. Russia Today published a list of sanctioned businessmen and corporations. Two days ago, Donald Trump delayed imposing additional sanctions on Russia, following a U.S.-led strike against Russian-backed Assad. According to CNN, several administration officials said the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is to blame for the confusion. CNN’s sources have confirmed that the discussion is ongoing and that the sanctions are not off the table yet.
Moscow has, perhaps in response to these happenings, called the U.S. sanctions “unlawful,” while threatening “targeted and painful” retaliation. “No one should be under any illusions,” Valentina Matvienko told Russian reporters.
“Russia’s response to the sanctions, our so-called counter-sanctions, will be precise, painful, and without question sensitive for exactly those countries that imposed them on Russia.”
Matvienko, who is closely aligned with the Kremlin, went on to call sanctions a “double-edged sword,” threatening “serious consequences” for those who impose them.
“Sanctions are a double-edged sword and those who impose them should understand that sanctions against countries, especially those like Russia, will carry with them risks of serious consequences for those who impose them.”
A response to American sanctions is already in the works. According to Reuters, lawmakers in the lower house of the Russian parliament have already drawn up legislation meant to give the Russian government the absolute power to restrict and ban the import of American goods. Although the Kremlin has not yet officially backed these actions, Matvienko’s statements suggest that it will. The legislation would ban and restrict the import of different sorts of American goods and services; including everything from medicine, over software, to rocket engines.
As the New York Times pointed out, quoting market analysts, Russia’s increasingly hostile and aggressive posture toward the West will probably backfire: an isolated Russia would inevitably suffer major long-term economic damage. Meanwhile, Russia keeps professing innocence on all fronts, while accusing the West of Russophobia.
Yuliy A. Nisnevich, a political-science professor told the NYT that the people, those who belong to the economic elite included, would like the escalations to stop. “These are the people who would like to spend or earn money abroad,” Nisnevich said.
The New York Times also talked to a Russian scholar, Vladislav L. Inozemtsev. Mr. Inozemtsev asserts that there are essentially three groups of people in Russia. One group is absolutely certain that Putin can’t do wrong. The urban elite, as well as the majority of the business community, thinks Putin has gone too far regarding the country’s relationship with the West. The third group, those who directly benefit from Putin, his inner circle, agree with everything the leader does.
Russian elite seems to value geopolitical goals far more than the country’s economic development. “When we say that we are not successful and quote economic numbers, they say that they do not care about this,” a Russian political commentator told the NYT.