Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Friday that his nation could retaliate against the United States’ newly issued economic sanctions on Friday, saying it would consider any action against its banks an act of economic war.
“I would not like to comment on talks about future sanctions, but I can say one thing: If some ban on banks’ operations or on their use of one or another currency follows, it would be possible to clearly call it a declaration of economic war,” Medvedev said, according to Reuters. “And it would be necessary, it would be needed to react to this war economically, politically, or, if needed, by other means. And our American friends need to understand this,” he said.
While Kremlin officials have expressed outrage over the latest package of U.S. sanctions, imposed over Russia’s alleged attempted assassination last spring of a former spy and his daughter, it is clear there is much Russia could do to retaliate United States without hurting its own economy, Reuters reported.
Russia has denied any involvement in the assassination attempt.
Medvedev’s comments do mark an escalation in rhetoric from the Kremlin, as Russia contends with the economic impact it has already felt since the new sanctions were announced on Wednesday. News of the U.S.-issued penalties sent the ruble into a downward spiral earlier this week. The currency lost nearly six percent of its value, according to Reuters.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the sanctions "absolutely illegal" under international law on Thursday, while maintaining that Russian finances were "stable."
The new sanctions are expected to take effect at the end of this month. A second round of tougher sanctions could be applied if Russia fails to meet certain conditions.
The penalties come on the heels of Trump’s historic and much-criticized summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. Russian efforts to build a closer relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump have met significant headwinds in Washington, where the White House has come under pressure to take a tougher stance towards Moscow, especially in the wake of last month’s Trump-Putin summit.