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Russia to expand US ‘blacklist’ to counter new sanctions

Trump to oust nat'l security adviser


Published: March 17, 2018 00:34:29


US President Donald Trump (right) shaking hands with National Security Adviser Lt Gen HR McMaster at a function recently

Russia will expand its own "blacklist" of Americans in response to new US sanctions announced by the Trump administration, a Russian minister said Friday, according to a report by CNN.

The development came amid Trump’s preparation to sack his national security adviser McMaster. 

The Trump administration confirmed Thursday it was enacting the new sanctions on Russia, including individuals indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, in a sweeping new effort to punish Moscow for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 US election.

Russia will use "the principle of parity" as it responds, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday, as quoted by state news agency RIA Novosti. Additional measures are not ruled out, he added.

He also said that the retaliatory measures Russia will take are not the preference of Moscow.

Ryabkov appeared slightly to soften the blow by adding that Russia did not want to close the window of dialogue with the US or the possibility of stabilizing bilateral relations.

"It is also worth thinking about that, destroying Russian-American relations," said Ryabkov. "These politicians play with fire, because they simultaneously undermine global stability."

In enacting the sanctions, the Trump administration is finally meeting a congressional mandate to impose measures punishing Moscow for its cyber intrusion. The delay had led to questions over US President Donald Trump's willingness to punish Moscow.

In total, the administration applied new sanctions on five entities and 19 individuals on Thursday, including the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that produced divisive political posts on American social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a financial backer to the Internet Research Agency with deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is also included. Known as "Putin's chef," Prigozhin was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year for his involvement with the Russian troll farm.

Sanctions were also applied on 13 other individuals who were indicted by Mueller for their participation in the election meddling efforts.

The administration also disclosed a Russian attempt to penetrate the US energy grid, and said the sanctions would punish actors for their participation in other major cyberattacks.

 In addition, sanctions were slapped on two Russian intelligence agencies, the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Directorate, as well as some of their employees.

The new sanctions would bar the individuals from traveling to the United States, and freeze whatever assets they may have in the country.

AFP adds: US President Donald Trump has decided to sack National Security Advisor HR McMaster, in what would be the latest in a string of high-profile White House departures, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The newspaper reported that Trump is discussing potential replacements for McMaster, but is willing to take his time because he wants to avoid humiliating him as well as to have a successor ready.

The report comes just two days after the president fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state-a move announced on Trump's Twitter account.

Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic advisor, resigned earlier this month, and Trump's White House tenure has also seen the departure of his chief strategist, chief of staff and his first national security advisor, among other officials.

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