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Moscow does not rule out tit-for-tat steps in response to possible US sanctions

Earlier the US indicted 13 Russian nationals and three entities for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election

MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry does not rule out tit-for-tat measures in response to possible US sanctions against 13 Russians over alleged meddling in the US presidential election, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Wednesday.

"We always respond, including with tit-for-tat measures. We have our own lists of individuals whose entry to Russia has been restricted. There are other forms of response," he said. "I do not rule out anything, but, before talking about that [about retaliatory measures - TASS], we need to see what will really happen in this area."

Russia-US relations 

Washington’s statements about possible new sanctions over Moscow’s alleged interference in the US election have been negatively affecting bilateral relations, Ryabkov believes.

"Every day we hear threats and various insinuations, see attempts to accuse Russia and Russian citizens of some activities that the US is not happy about," he said. "It is clear that all of this has been negatively affecting bilateral relations. Paradoxically, Americans have been taking steps to interfere in our domestic issues and raise tensions ahead of the Russian presidential elections [scheduled to be held on March 18]," Ryabkov added.

At the same time, he stressed that the United States continued to make groundless accusations against Russia concerning its alleged interference in the US election processes. "We regret all this. It will be very difficult to improve relations with the US starting from the current low level, it will take a long time," Ryabkov noted. "We have taken into account that the current US administration boasts its tough approach to Russia," he said.

According to Ryabkov, Moscow believed that there is a clear domestic reason behind it. "This year, as well as last year, the anti-Russian card is played in the US domestic political struggle," he said. "As a result, mistrust deepens and we get new evidence proving that the US is a highly unreliable partner with whom it is very difficult to agree on any issue," the Russian deputy foreign minister concluded.

On February 16, the United States indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The indictment was prepared by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Among the Russians indicted by the special counsel are businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and 12 employees of the Internet Research Agency.