President Joe Biden announced a range of new sanctions against Russia this week with both economic and diplomatic implications.
The move was billed as a response to various misdeeds on the part of Russian leaders against the U.S. and its allies. Russia responded by banning several top Biden administration officials from entering its territory, Fox News reported.
While the retaliation was purportedly not a direct reaction to the new sanctions, the timing of Friday’s announcement by the Russian Foreign Ministry clearly led to such connections.
According to the statement, at least eight top officials, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, are prohibited from visiting Russia.
The ministry also banned entry for at least two former U.S. government officials: former national security adviser John Bolton and former CIA Director James Woolsey. According to the announcement, their support of “anti-Russian policy” was at the root of the decision.
Russia’s statement claimed that rising tensions between the two nations had been “provoked” by the Biden administration, leading to “unprecedented complications” in the perpetually strained relations.
“We have repeatedly warned and demonstrated in practice that sanctions and any other pressure will never succeed and will only have dire consequences for those who dare attempt such provocations,” the ministry asserted.
“Now is the time”
Furthermore, the statement included a threat to reduce the number of U.S. diplomats permitted in Russia from 455 to 300 if the “spiraling sanctions” were not reversed.
“The latest attack by the Biden administration against our country cannot go unanswered,” the announcement continued. “Now is the time for the United States to show common sense and pull back from this confrontational course.”
Instead of citing the most recent sanctions as the catalyst for its announcement, Russia described it as a belated response to international sanctions applied last month as punishment for the alleged poisoning and wrongful imprisonment of Russian dissident Aleksey Navalny.
Just one day prior to Russia’s announcement, however, the Biden administration unveiled a slate of new sanctions for its alleged involvement in such things as elections, cyberattacks, corruption, oppression, and undermining U.S. interests around the globe. In addition to expelling at least 10 Russian diplomats, the sanctions also included blocking or seizing assets and property of sanctioned individuals, barring their entry into the U.S., and prohibiting them from doing business with Americans or U.S. companies.
The White House stressed during a press call on Thursday morning that it sought a “stable and predictable” relationship with Russia, not a “downward spiral” of antagonistic actions.