Russian Federation says it will respond firmly to USA sanctions

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The US authorities have also put on the sanction list a number of Russian officials, including Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, chairman of the Federation Council's global affairs committee Konstantin Kosachyov, and head of the federal communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, Aleksander Zharov, as follows from a news release by the US Department of the Treasury. The law aims to punish Russian Federation for interfering in the US election as well as actions meant to subvert democracy in Europe. "As the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russian Federation", a White House statement said.

The officials ticked through a list of complaints about Russia's actions beyond its borders, including its annexation of Crimea, backing of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, support for Syrian president Bashar Assad, and cyber-hacking.

The measures were taken under a USA law passed to punish Russian Federation for its alleged bid to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, engage in cyber-warfare and intervene in Ukraine and Syria.

US President Donald Trump has begun initial preparations for a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller who is now probing the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a media report said. The Treasury Department said Mr Deripaska was accused of illegal wiretaps, extortion, racketeering, money laundering and even death threats against business rivals.

Shares in his energy company, E+, dropped 19% on the London Stock Exchange on Friday as a result of the sanctions, which the Kremlin have dismissed as "absurdity". Mr Deripaska's conglomerate, Basic Element, said it regretted the sanctions and was analysing them with its lawyers.

The United States has imposed a new round of sanctions against Russian business leaders, further escalating bilateral tensions and prompting a response from Russia's embassy.

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"American democracy is clearly degrading", the ministry said. "Of course, we will not leave the current and any new anti-Russian attack without a tough response".

"I'd love to do it", Trump said, indicating that he'd been told by his lawyers an interview would take place in "two to three weeks".

Yet even as it rolled out the new penalties, Trump's administration left open the possibility of "a good relationship with Russia" in the future.

"Not at all", Sanders said.

Those being punished are not necessarily involved in the Russian actions in Syria, Ukraine or elsewhere that have drawn consternation from the West. Both Mr Miller and Mr Kostin are longtime key members of Mr Putin's team.

As a result of the punishment, all assets of the designated persons and entities that are subject to USA jurisdiction are frozen, and US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them. "Now, the sanctions cover captains of Russian business who refuse to play to Washington's scenario", the embassy said. Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of Russian Federation, and Aleksandr Zharov, the Head of Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, - ed.) appeared in the sanctions list as well.

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