Russia warns that US is playing 'with fire' by imposing sanctions

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  • Russia warned the US over targeted sanctions.
  • The sanctions relate to the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
  • Both the US and EU have imposed sanctions on Russia.


Russia warned on Wednesday it would "rebuff aggression" after the US slapped Kremlin-linked officials with sanctions over the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Washington on Tuesday imposed penalties in a coordinated action with the European Union as US intelligence concluded that Moscow orchestrated the near fatal poisoning of jailed Kremlin critic Navalny in August.

"We will continue to systematically and resolutely defend our national interests and rebuff aggression," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, adding Moscow would react on the basis of "reciprocity and not necessarily symmetrically".

She accused the US of "trying to cultivate the image of an external enemy" as a way to distract attention from domestic problems.

"We urge our colleagues not to play with fire," she added in a statement published late on Tuesday.

READ | UN experts urge global probe of Navalny poisoning

The targeted sanctions announced on Tuesday signal a harder line from US President Joe Biden and add to a series of penalties the EU and the US have imposed on Russia since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Echoing comments made by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier Tuesday, Zakharova said that Russia would respond in turn to the penalties.

"We will react on the basis of the principle of reciprocity and not necessarily symmetrically," she said.

Navalny was flown to Germany for treatment but he defiantly returned in January, only to be arrested and then sent to a penal colony after spurring massive rallies through his allegations of corruption by Putin.

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