The Kremlin said on Thursday it would respond in kind to any new “illegal” new U.S. sanctions on Russia and warned any new measures would reduce the chances of a summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin taking place.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that the United States may announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday for alleged interference in U.S. elections and malicious cyber activity, targeting several individuals and entities.
The Kremlin has denied U.S. allegations that Russia tried to meddle in the 2020 U.S. presidential election or that it was behind a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would wait to see what happened on the sanctions front before commenting in detail.
But he said the Kremlin’s stance on sanctions and its response to them remained unchanged.
“We condemn any intentions to impose sanctions, consider them illegal, and in any case the principle of reciprocity operates in this area,” said Peskov.
“Reciprocity so that our own interests are ensured in the best possible way.”
Russia did not want relations with Washington to be a case of “one step forward and two steps back,” he added.
Biden, in a phone call on Tuesday, proposed a summit with Putin to tackle a raft of disputes and told Moscow to reduce tensions over Ukraine triggered by a Russian military build-up.
The Kremlin has so far responded coolly to the summit idea making clear it will be contingent upon U.S. behaviour towards Russia.
Peskov said on Thursday that any new U.S. sanctions would not increase the chances of such a summit taking place, but said it would be up to the two presidents to decide on the matter.
Putin’s participation in a Biden-backed climate summit remained under discussion, Peskov said.
He said the situation around Ukraine remained tense with NATO and U.S. forces still deployed close to Russia’s own borders. It was therefore premature, he said, to talk about de-escalation, despite reports that the United States had cancelled the deployment of two of its warships to the Black Sea.
The West has expressed deep concern about the big build-up of Russian forces close to Ukraine’s border, as fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has escalated.