Russian official issues harsh threats to the West

Moscow (AFP) – A senior Russian official warned on Saturday that Moscow could respond to Western sanctions by choosing not to take part in the latest nuclear arms deal with the United States, cutting diplomatic ties with Western countries and freezing their assets, as Russia’s ties with the West decline. . its lowest level on its invasion of Ukraine.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council headed by President Vladimir Putin, also warned that Moscow could bring back the death penalty after it was removed from Europe’s largest rights group.

Sanctions imposed tough new restrictions on Russia’s financial operations, imposed a strict ban on technology exports to Russia, and froze the assets of Putin and his foreign minister, a harsh response that dwarfed Western restrictions. Washington and its allies say tougher sanctions are possible, including the expulsion of Russia from SWIFT, the system that dominates global financial transactions.

In sarcastic comments posted on a Russian social platform, Medvedev dismissed the sanctions as a display of Western “political impotence” that would only solidify the Russian leadership and provoke anti-Western sentiment.

He said, mocking the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies as an attempt to justify their previous “shameful” decisions, such as the cowardly withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Medvedev was vice president in 2008-2012 when Putin was forced to switch to the prime minister’s seat due to presidential term limitations. He then let Putin regain the presidency and served as his prime minister for eight years.

During his presidency, Medvedev was widely seen as more liberal than Putin, but on Saturday he made a series of threats not mentioned by even the most hard-line Kremlin figure to date.

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Medvedev noted that the sanctions provide the Kremlin with a pretext for a full review of its relations with the West, suggesting that Russia could withdraw from the New START treaty limiting nuclear arms that limits US and Russian nuclear arsenals.

The treaty, which Medvedev signed in 2010 with then-US President Barack Obama, limited each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missile and launchers, and envisages extensive on-site inspections to verify compliance. The agreement, the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia, was due to expire in February 2021 but Moscow and Washington extended it for another five years.

If Russia chooses to withdraw from the agreement now, it will remove any controls on US and Russian nuclear forces and raise new threats to global security.

Medvedev also raised the possibility of severing diplomatic relations with Western countries, accusing that “there is no special need to maintain diplomatic relations” and adding that “we may look at each other through binoculars and rifles.”

Referring to Western threats to freeze the assets of Russian companies and individuals, Medvedev warned that Moscow would not hesitate to do the same.

“We will need to respond in kind by freezing the assets of foreigners and foreign companies in Russia … and possibly nationalizing the assets of those who come from unfriendly jurisdictions,” he said. “The most interesting things are only beginning now.”

Commenting on Friday’s move by the Council of Europe to suspend Russia’s representation in Europe’s leading human rights organization, Medvedev disdainfully described one of the “nursing homes” that Russia had mistakenly joined.

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He added that it provides a “good opportunity” to restore the death penalty for serious crimes, noting that the United States and China have never stopped using it.

Moscow has maintained a moratorium on the death penalty as part of its commitments since joining the Council of Europe in 1996, and Medvedev’s statement shocked human rights defenders and activists in the country.

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