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Russia to respond to new US sanctions: Foreign ministry official

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official has indicated that Moscow will reciprocate a move by the United States to impose new sanctions on Russia over alleged malign activity in the cyber space.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that Russia would not let the United States go away with its continued adoption of economic bans on Moscow.

“Obviously, retaliatory measures will be considered, in such situation we can’t do without them … We will take reciprocal steps,” said Ryabkov, according to RIA news agency.

The comments came a day after the US Treasury enforced bans on transaction with a number of Russian entities and individuals over their alleged contribution to hacking operations by the Russian military and intelligence services which the US authorities say have targeted the US and allies.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin alleged in a statement on Monday that those affected in the new sanctions had been involved in cyber attacks that spread across Europe, Asia and the Americas, including “the NotPetya attack” last year, which US officials claimed caused billions of dollars in damages, and was part of Russia’s effort to destabilize Ukraine. He said the sanctions were meant to prevent further “malicious” actions by Russia.

“The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” said Mnuchin.

The Treasury also claimed that Russia had been actively seeking to sabotage undersea communication systems and said that the new sanctions also targeted Moscow’s underwater capabilities.

“Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data,” it said, designating firms like Digital Security, ERPScan, Embedi, Kvant Scientific Research Institute, and Divetechnoservices as those involved in the underwater work.

Individuals related to Divetechnoservices, which designs, manufactures and supplies professional diving equipment, were also blacklisted.

Russia has faced rounds of US and European sanctions over a crisis in eastern Ukraine that broke out in 2014. Moscow’s intelligence services were specifically targeted by US sanctions in late 2016 when they were accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections, an allegation Russia denies.

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