08/13/2022 – 1:34 PM
Moscow warns that diplomatic ties will be “irreversible” if Washington seizes Russian assets or declares the country a state sponsor of terrorism.
Alexander Darchiev, head of the North American Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, was quoted by the Russian news agency TASS.
Relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated dramatically since President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what he called a “special military operation”.
Western powers responded with unprecedented economic, financial and diplomatic sanctions, including freezing half of Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, which before February 21 were close to $640 billion.
Senior Western officials, including European Union (EU) diplomatic chief Joseph Borrell, have recommended seizing frozen reserves to fund Ukraine’s future reconstruction.
“We warn the Americans of the harmful consequences of such actions, which will permanently damage bilateral relations, which is neither in their interest nor in our interest,” Darchiev said in an interview with TASS.
It was not immediately clear which properties he was referring to.
The United States and its European allies have frozen $30 billion in assets of wealthy individuals linked to the Russian president, according to reports from the Biden administration.
In July, a U.S. attorney said the U.S. Justice Department was seeking broader congressional authority to seize assets of Russian oligarchs as a means of pressuring Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.
Government supports terrorism
Darchiev told DASS that Moscow had already warned the US that diplomatic relations would be severely affected and could be severed if it were to declare Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
The Biden administration is under pressure to add Moscow to that list, which already includes countries such as Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea.
Both the US House and Senate have introduced resolutions asking Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for such a report. Last month, two US senators traveled to Kiev to discuss the initiative with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“If accepted, it would mean that Washington would have passed a point of no return, with very serious collateral damage to bilateral diplomatic relations from their reduction or their breakdown. The Americans were warned,” the Russian said.
Last Thursday, Latvia’s parliament declared Russia state sponsor of terrorism over the war in Ukraine, and urged Western allies to impose broad economic sanctions against Moscow.
ek (Reuters, AFP, OTS)
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