“The US has declared economic war on Russia,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on August 10 in remarks that set the stage for a real military clash between the two countries.
A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez, Cory Gardner, Ben Cardin, John McCain and Jeanne Shaheen recently introduced the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018. The full text of the bill was first published not on the Senate’s website but by the Russian newspaper Kommersant. (The Senators’ press offices later confirmed its authenticity). The bill’s toughest measures include banning seven major Russian banks from all operations in dollars, prohibiting transactions relating to new sovereign debt of Russia, and sanctioning Russian energy projects supported by Russian state-owned or parastatal entities.
The Kommersant story sent the ruble crashing the very next day to its lowest value since the fall of 2016. When the State Department announcement followed, Russia’s national airline Aeroflot’s market value dropped 8 percent on news that its U.S.-bound flights might be banned, too. The Russian financial markets have registered high volatility, and Russian politicians have been struggling to get on message.
But the most candid reaction with respect to acknowledging the possible damage came from Prime Minister Medvedev, who said that new sanctions would be perceived as a declaration of war against Russia.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Friday that his nation could retaliate against the United States’ newly issued economic sanctions, saying it would consider any action against its banks an act of economic war.
“I would not like to comment on talks about future sanctions, but I can say one thing: If some ban on banks’ operations or on their use of one or another currency follows, it would be possible to clearly call it a declaration of economic war,” Medvedev said, according to Reuters. “And it would be necessary, it would be needed to react to this war economically, politically, or, if needed, by other means. And our American friends need to understand this,”