US meddling in Russian affairs by recruiting agents: Kremlin

The Kremlin has accused the United States of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs by “crudely” trying to recruit Russian nationals to act as Washington’s agents.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the remark during a conference call in Moscow on Monday, in reaction to a report by The New York Times that claimed the FBI and US Justice Department had attempted to recruit Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska as an informer between 2014 and 2016.

“The fact is that the United States in recent years is working crudely using its intelligence services, trying to recruit Russian citizens, exerting moral and other pressure on them,” Peskov said.

“I think these incidents in the most eloquent manner testify to the attempts to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs,” the Russian presidential spokesman added.

Moscow has on several occasions accused Washington of interference in Russia’s affairs by imposing sanctions and levying tariffs as part of the US’s protectionist trade policies.

The US has so far imposed several rounds of sanction on Russian firms and individuals, accusing the government of Vladimir Putin of having a hand in the Ukraine crisis, leading a cyber-attack campaign against American organizations and poisoning a former double agent in the UK using a nerve agent.

In the latest move, the White House on August 8 announced new sanctions against Moscow, including restrictions on trade and diplomatic ties, in connection with the alleged poison attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury back in March.

The UK and its allies, including the US, have accused Moscow of masterminding and orchestrating the attack.

Russia has since repeatedly denied any role in the incident, offering its assistance to Britain in the investigation. However, London has refused to provide information on the case, including any evidence on Russia’s purported interference.

The new US sanctions include blocking foreign aid to Russia, halting the sale of items or services related to defense and national security, and prohibiting any government credit support for exports to Russia.

President Putin has rejected the latest US sanction as a “counterproductive and senseless” move.

“Sanctions are actions that are counterproductive and senseless, especially against a country like Russia,” Putin said during a press conference with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on August 22.

This comes as Russia has been taking diplomatic and economic measures to stave off possible impacts of the US sanctions. The measures include establishing closer diplomatic ties with Iran, Turkey, and the European Union, cutting reserves of US Treasury securities, and turning eastward in pursuit of a closer Eurasian partnership.

Additionally, the Russian government has in response increased duties on some American goods from 25 to 40 percent. The increase came in retaliation for a move by the US to suddenly raise tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from Russia to unprecedented levels. The US tariffs on steel and aluminum are expected to cost Russian companies more than half a billion dollars.

Russia filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization in June, accusing Washington of multiple violations of international trade rules in connection with the metal tariffs.

Press TV

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