US says Russia must change its behaviour, Moscow promises tougher response to sanctions
The Trump Administration wants a positive relationship with Russia, but for this to happen, Moscow needs to significantly change its behaviour, the White House has said.
The comment from the White House came hours after the US administration sanctioned seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies, and 17 top government officials and allies of President Vladimir Putin.
“We want a positive relationship with the Russian government, but for this to happen, there must be a significant change in their behaviour,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters yesterday at her daily news conference.
“The sanctions and the totality of the administration’s actions, which are in keeping with Congress’ wishes, prove the president is absolutely correct when he says no one has been tougher on Russia,” Sanders said.
She said the ball was in Russia’s court as their actions would decide the kind of relationship Moscow has with the US in near future.
“As the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russia, but that’s going to depend on some of the actions by the Russians,” Sanders said.
“However, at the same time, the president is going to continue to be tough until we see that change take place. And we’re going to continue working forward to have a meeting with Vladimir Putin at some point,” Sanders said.
Moscow on Friday promised a “tough response” to new US sanctions imposed on seven of Russia’s most influential oligarchs following the diplomatic crisis sparked by the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.
“We will not let the current attack, or any new anti-Russian attack, go without a tough response,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement, after the US sanctions which also target 12 companies owned by the oligarchs, 17 senior Russian officials and a state-owned arms export company.
“Having obtained zero results from the 50 previous rounds of sanctions, Washington continues to employ fear with the refusal to issue American visas, the threatening of Russian businesses with the freezing of companies’ assets and property, while forgetting that the requisitioning of private property and other people’s money is known as theft,” the ministry added.
Such sanctions place the United States in the category of “enemies of the market economy and honest and free competition” as they “use administrative methods to eliminate competitors in foreign markets”.
American lawmakers welcomed the sanctions.
Senator John McCain said the sanctions were “a clear message” to Putin and warned that the Russians would pay heavily for their alleged aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
“The US must press forward with a broader strategy to deter and, if necessary, defeat Russian aggression and counter Russian malign influence activities. Anything less will only encourage Putin to continue attacking us, our allies, and democracies around the world,” said McCain.