- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2021

The Kremlin’s top spokesman Friday slammed what he called the U.S. government’s “obsession” with imposing sanctions on countries it does not like, but said any retaliation for President Biden’s recent moves to punish Russian hacking operations was still being considered by President Vladimir Putin.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to reporters in Moscow Friday, was reacting to a range of punishments announced by Mr. Biden the day before in the wake of the SolarWinds hack of major U.S. private and public computer networks, a hack the U.S. has blamed on the Kremlin. Mr. Biden’s order blacklisted Russian companies, ordered 10 Russian diplomats out of the country, and restricted U.S. banks from purchasing Russian government debt.

“Clearly, [Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin] differ in their understanding of how to build mutually beneficial relations taking into account each other’s interests,” Mr. Peskov said. “… And, of course, the obsession with sanctions by our American counterparts remains unacceptable.”

The Kremlin spokesman hinted strongly that Moscow will hit back at the U.S. for the new sanctions, but said Mr. Putin was still weighing his options.

“In general the principle of reciprocity has never been canceled in relation to such matters,” Mr. Peskov said. “It is a basic principle. But let me say once again that everything will depend on the decision the head of state will make.”

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov reportedly met with U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan Friday to outline what moves Moscow was planning. Mr. Putin also discussed a possible retaliation at a meeting with the Russian Security Council, Mr. Peskov said.

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