Kremlin lays out counter-sanctions to U.S. envoy, but leaves door open to dialogue

MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Kremlin unveiled its retaliatory measures to the U.S ambassador to Moscow on Friday, denouncing Washington’s latest round of sanctions as “unacceptable” even as it left the door open to dialogue.

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the board of trustees of the Russian Geographical Society via a video conference call in Moscow, Russia April 14, 2021. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

The United States on Thursday blacklisted Russian companies, expelled Russian diplomats and barred U.S. banks from buying sovereign bonds from Russia’s central bank, national wealth fund and Finance Ministry.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin would decide how Moscow would retaliate and that the nuclear powers were worlds apart on the sanctions question, although it said that Moscow, like Washington, was interested in cooperation.

“Our response (to sanctions) will be formed in the time frame, and in the way that the president considers appropriate,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“The sanctions addiction of our counterparts remains unacceptable,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who has proposed that he and Putin meet for a summit, called for a de-escalation in tensions late on Thursday after sanctions were announced and said it was vital the White House and Kremlin kept communication lines open.

“(Putin) has repeatedly said we’re ready to develop dialogue as much as our counterparts are ready to do so. In this sense it is probably positive that the views of the two heads of state coincide,” Peskov told reporters.

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“Their views categorically do not coincide when it comes to creating mutually beneficial relations and taking each other’s interests into account,” he added of sanctions.

Fears of U.S. sanctions have caused volatility on Russian markets for weeks and prompted the rouble to fall sharply this week. The national currency recovered much of that ground though as it became clear the sanctions had stopped short of crippling measures that would curb Moscow’s ability to issue state debt.

Peskov later said that Moscow had informed U.S. ambassador John Sullivan of its sanctions response, the RIA news agency reported. No details were released.

Russia-U.S. ties slumped to a new post-Cold War low last month after Biden said he thought Putin was a “killer” and Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations. The envoy has still not returned almost a month later.

The sanctions were a response to Moscow’s suspected meddling in last year’s U.S. election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions. Russia denies all those allegations.

The Kremlin said that Putin had yet to decide about whether he would take part in a U.S.-led climate summit.

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, was recalled to Moscow last month amid deteriorating ties. He attended a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday.

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