Russia threatens US with 'asymmetrical' and 'painful' retaliation if tougher sanctions imposed

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow may take “asymmetrical” and “painful” measures if the US makes good on its talk of imposing tougher sanctions on Russia, Radio Free Europe reports.

Sanctions, which the European Union vowed to impose on Monday and the US backs, would be tied to Russia’s actions in Syria, where numerous and credible reports have tied Moscow to war crimes in its efforts to reinforce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime during the six-year-long Syrian conflict.

Ryabkov made these statements to Russia’s State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, which just today unanimously approved Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to unilaterally drop out of a nuclear disarmament agreement with the US.

It’s unclear what “asymmetrical” actions Russia could take to cause “pain” to the US, but the Department of Homeland Security formally accused Russian state actors of hacking the DNC and top staffers of Hillary Clinton to “interfere with the US election process.”

Additionally, Russia has established dominance on the battlefield in Syria, unilaterally implementing a brief ceasefire on Wednesday and then ending it without input from the international community.

Of the brief pause in bombing, Mark Kramer, program director of the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, told Business Insider, “I wish this step could be seen as a humanitarian gesture, but that seems implausible.”

Instead, Kramer said that the proposal is likely a “cynical step” designed to keep EU foreign ministers from agreeing on new sanctions against Russia in connection with its “merciless bombardment” of Aleppo.

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