Russia’s deputy foreign minister said his country’s retaliation in response to U.S. actions against Russia was “long, long overdue.”
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov discussed the Kremlin’s acting Friday to demand a cut in the number of American diplomats in Russia and seizing two U.S. facilities.
“I think this retaliation is long, long overdue,” Ryabkov told “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz, adding that after the U.S. Senate on Thursday “voted so overwhelmingly on a completely weird and unacceptable piece of legislation, it was the last drop.”
A new sanctions bill against Russia, Iran and North Korea cleared Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, by a 98-2 vote in the Senate and 419-3 in the House. The legislation now awaits President Trump‘s signature, and in a statement Friday night the White House said Trump “approves the bill and intends to sign it.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile promised last week to retaliate if the United States issued new sanctions, saying, according to Reuters, “We are exercising restraint and patience, but at some moment we’ll have to retaliate.”
And on Friday, the Kremlin acted, ordering a cut in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia and seizing two American facilities in the country — a recreational country house outside Moscow and a storage facility in the Russian capital.
Ryabkov said on “This Week” that “if the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration we will answer, we will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate.”
As to how the Kremlin might respond, he said, “We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal. It would be ridiculous on my part to start speculating on what may or may not happen.”
He added, “I can assure you that different options are on the table and consideration is being given to all sorts of things.”
Raddatz also asked Ryabkov if Russia provided damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
He did not answer directly, saying, “All the information which we provide to anyone can be easily found in open sources.”
Ryabkov added, “We are not doing anything to the detriment of the domestic developments or internal affairs of any country, the U.S. included.”
Raddatz reminded the Kremlin official of his saying in November that Russia had contacts with the Trump campaign during the election.
“What kind of contacts,…