The sanctions bill, born of U.S. politicians’ continuing accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, was passed by Congress and sent to Trump’s desk for final approval at the end of July.
Following new sanctions against Russia that President Donald Trump signed into law last week, Moscow responded Monday by announcing Russia will speed up work on reducing the country’s dependence on Western payment systems and the U.S. dollar in general, according to Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
“We will, of course, intensify work related to import substitution, reduction of dependence on U.S. payment systems, on the dollar as a settling currency and so on. It is becoming a vital need,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday, as cited by RIA.
“(Otherwise) we will always sit on their hook, exactly what they need,” he added.
Russia didn’t wait for the U.S. president’s signature, however, and boldly responded within hours the bill’s congressional passage. As CNN reported:
“President Vladimir Putin has hit back at new American sanctions by ordering the US to cut staff at its diplomatic mission by 755, in Moscow’s most aggressive move against Washington since the final years of the Cold War.”
Trump signed the sanctions bill into law last Wednesday, August 2.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov’s comments Monday came as his boss, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum in the Philippines.
Speaking of the U.S.-Russia relationship following his talk with Lavrov, Tillerson said Monday that there exists “serious mistrust between our two countries” but that they “simply have to find some way to deal with that.”
Of the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, Tillerson said the U.S. needs to help Russia “understand how serious this incident had been and how seriously it damaged the relationship.”
The secretary of state also said Monday that an official response to Russia’s expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomats at the end of July can be expected by September 1.
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