Russia is ready to strike back at the U.S. government for a bill imposing sanctions over the 2016 election interference, a Kremlin official warned Sunday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the U.S. will face a “long, long overdue” retaliation after Congress approved the bill last week.
“If the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer,” he said in an ominous interview with ABC News’ “This Week.”
“We will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate.”
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Russia already dished out revenge on Friday by expelling some American diplomats and closing down two U.S. facilities.
When asked if the Kremlin had any other plans for punishment — such as sanctions or trade bans — Ryabkov wouldn’t say anything is off limits.
“We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal,” he said.
“We are not gamblers. We’re people who consider things very seriously and very responsibly. But I can assure you that different options are on the table. And consideration is being given to all sorts of things, both symmetrical or asymmetrical, to use a very popular word in the world of diplomacy.”
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Both houses of Congress passed the bill — which also slaps sanctions on Iran and North Korea — with nearly unanimous bipartisan support. The White House said Friday that President Trump “approves the bill and intends to sign it,” even though he pushed back on early attempts to pass it.
Ryabkov called the bill “a completely weird and unacceptable piece of legislation,” and said it was “the last drop” before Russia decided to take action against the U.S.
Former President Barack Obama leveled sanctions against Russia in December 2016 for its cyber campaign to compromise the presidential election. Under Trump, the U.S. has laid down Russian sanctions in reaction to the Kremlin’s aggressive military actions in Ukraine.
Despite all of this, Trump has still refused to publicly condemned Russia for the election hacks, and he accepted the denials from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump has publicly doubted the consensus from the U.S. intelligence community that the Kremlin attacked the campaign to help him win.
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The Trump campaign is under federal investigation for potential collusion with the Kremlin, and several congressional committees are inspecting the election meddling.
The congressional probes have recently focused on a secret meeting held at Trump Tower last year between three Trump campaign representatives and a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
On “This Week,” Ryabkov sidestepped a direct question about whether Russia provided the Trump campaign with dirt about Clinton.
“All the information which we provide to anyone can be easily found in open sources,” he said.
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“We are not doing anything to the detriment of the domestic developments or internal affairs of any country, the U.S. included.”
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