The Russian government will soon present a list of unfriendly countries, the criteria are clear, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Sputnik.
“I think [it will happen] soon. The government has specific instructions, the criteria by which we are guided in this work are clear. So, I think, we will not have to wait long,” Lavrov said.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to limit the number of Russians employed by foreign diplomatic missions of countries that are determined to be unfriendly toward Russia, and the foreign ministry was tasked with drawing up the list.
The announcement comes amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington over anti-Russia sanctions, based on accusations of election interference and Moscow’s alleged role in the SolarWinds hack. Russia has strongly denied these allegations as lacking any evidence, adding that the sanctions run contrary to the interests of the two nations, and has issued response measures.
According to the White House, the sanctions are not designed to escalate bilateral tensions but to impose costs on Moscow for what Washington feels “are unacceptable actions by the Russian government”. Lavrov has characterized these claims as “schizophrenic notes”, warning that bilateral relations could return to a cold war-like state if the United States rejects dialogue.The United States slapped sanctions on 32 Russian entities and individuals as part of a new round of sanctions, and also expelled 10 Russian diplomats from the country and prohibited US entities from purchasing Russian government bonds during primary placements.
According to charges laid out by the Biden administration, Russian intelligence was behind last year’s SolarWinds hack on US information technology systems. Russia was also accused of interfering in the 2020 US election and waging chemical warfare.
In response, Russia banned eight US citizens from entering the country, including US Attorney General Merrick Garland, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Putin has stressed that wants to be on good terms with all members of the international community, but this pursuit does not equal weakness.
“We truly do not want to burn bridges. But if one perceives our goodwill as indifference or weakness and is ready to completely burn — or even blow up — those bridges on their own, they must know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, quick and brutal,” the Russian president said.