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Russia To Expand 'Blacklist' Of Americans In Response To Sanctions

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (file photo)

A senior Russian diplomat says that Moscow will respond to a new set of U.S. sanctions by expanding its "blacklist" of Americans who are barred from traveling to Russia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on March 16 that Russia is preparing sanctions against "a new group of American actors" and possible "additional" measures.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced new financial and travel sanctions on March 15 against 19 Russian people and five entities, among them two Russian intelligence agencies, in response to what it said was interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and "malicious cyberattacks."

Ryabkov said that Russia would use the principle of parity in its response to the U.S. sanctions, targeting the same number of people.

He did not say what Moscow’s sanctions would be, but in the past Russia has retaliated by imposing travel bans on Americans it accuses of rights violations.

Ryabkov added that he doesn't want to definitively close the door to dialogue.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also said that Moscow would respond but gave no details.

Russia will retaliate "in due time" and "in a way that it considers expedient," Peskov told reporters.

The U.S. sanctions came in response to what officials said was a wide range of "malicious cyber activity," including Russian efforts to hack into the U.S. energy grid, and other parts of the U.S. infrastructure, including dams. The agencies targeted by the U.S. sanctions over alleged election meddling include the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company known in the West as the "troll factory."

Russia denies meddling in the U.S. election campaign.

It’s unclear how much effect the new U.S. measures will have in influencing Russian actions in the United States or Europe.

Many of the agencies, individuals, and entities had either been sanctioned previously, or had been publicly accused in U.S. statements, including in the indictment released last month by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and RIA
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