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Russia Warns US, New Sanctions Are a ‘Declaration of Economic War’

As Russia braces for new U.S. sanctions and the nation’s currency faces steep devaluation, President Vladimir Putin and top government officials are warning of the potential fallout of additional retaliatory measures.

The U.S. Department of State announced new penalties against Russia earlier this week in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

According to The Hill, the Russian ruble has lost much of its value as a result of the impending sanctions, which are set to be implemented later this month.

U.S. lawmakers are reportedly considering further measures that could lead to even more restriction on Russian-controlled banking institutions.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reacted to the news by describing the imposition of additional sanctions as an unacceptable escalation in tensions between his country and the U.S.

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“If something like a ban on bank operations or currency use follows, it will amount to a declaration of economic war,” he said.

Such a scenario, he said, would “warrant a response with economic means, political means and, if necessary, other means,” warning that the country’s “American friends should understand that.”

Putin himself spoke out against the sanctions in a statement describing them as “possible new unfriendly steps by Washington.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced the response on Wednesday, citing the March attack as the primary factor.

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“Following the use of a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, the United States, on August 6, 2018, determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals.”

She explained that the sanctions would take effect after “a 15-day Congressional notification period” and “upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register,” which she expects to be complete around August 22.

Another round of sanctions could follow after 90 days, according to CNBC, and would be triggered if Russia is unable to adequately prove it has ceased using chemical and biological weapons.

Mark Simakovsky, a former U.S. defense official, explained to CNN that the additional sanctions could affect things like travel through restriction of flights through Russian airline Aeroflot.

He cited increased political pressure after the Trump-Putin meeting in Finland and in the final weeks of the midterm election season.

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Though the possibility is there, he said he does not believe the Trump administration will opt to pursue wide-ranging sanctions.

“I’m highly skeptical the administration will cut off a whole range of imports and exports,” he said. “But that’s the interesting thing: What will the administration do in three months?”

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