MOSCOW – Numerous diplomatic expulsions have given Russia and the West the opportunity to take more symbolic measures that form the basis for less predictable forms of escalation as the gap between the two sides grows, say Russian government advisors and analysts
There is still room for more battles in this diplomatic war, but it will not be a diplomatic war any longer, "said Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads the Kremlin's foreign and defense policy advisory body.
In the latest "tit-for-tat" measures between Moscow and Western capitals following the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, Moscow this week said 60 US diplomats from Russia responded to similar ones US action over Moscow's alleged role in the nerve agent attack. On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on nearly two dozen European ambassadors to cause more outbreaks and further staff cuts in British missions in Russia.
The White House put the Skripal attack right in front of Moscow's doorstep, though most of them The criticism comes from the senior administrators rather than the president
itself. And leading US politicians say they believe the Russian government will continue its interference in the upcoming US election.
The US and its allies have hinted that they could take further action against Russia over the nerve agent attack. US Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, said earlier this week that Washington could seize Russian assets in the US
The Trump administration said last month that it does not plan to ban Russian government bonds, but rather to ban analysts and Congressional investors. Adviser Since the Skripal attack, it has been said that the government can take steps to gradually increase the financial pressure on Moscow.
For example, it could start by eliminating new issues of certain maturities or prohibiting US purchases on primary markets, but allowing secondary market trading and non-US citizens to buy Russian debt. It could also hit selected stock markets.
"There is plenty of room to escalate on financial sanctions," said
a former State Department official, now at the Atlantic Council.
While the government has opposed more sanctions of this kind, there is bipartisan support on Capitol Hill to consider legislation that could call for tightening sanctions on Moscow, including debt
a Russian expert at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Russia's lack of economic clout overseas would limit the Kremlin's ability to fight back, he said
It may eventually lead to avenging oneself in a riskier way, such as intensifying the confrontation over Syria or in cyberspace.
"I would expect Russia to hurt the US, where it hurts the most," he said. "I do not know what these measures might be, but they will be asymmetrical and painful."
As relations between Russia and the West worsen, Trenin said the US could exert more pressure on Europe to cut its consumption of Russian gas and cut plans to build another pipeline that would continue its reliance on Russian gas would deepen.
Russia's relations with the US are down after allegations that Russia interfered in the 201
has gained support among the Russians and has been able to boast of a nuclear arsenal that has even fueled US missile defense.
Russia has ordered cutbacks from more than 800 diplomatic employees and local employees in the US last year. At the end of 2016, last year and early this month, the US imposed new sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The US is represented in Russia today with about a third of its employees a year ago.
Both sides have imposed sanctions and raised objections to confrontations over alleged Russian interference in the West and Russia's indignant denial. Moscow curtailed access to several US diplomatic properties in Russia last year in response to the closure of the Moscow Consulate in San Francisco and other corporations.
In the final stages, Russia announced the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg – its largest official presence outside Moscow – after Washington ordered the closure of the comparatively minor Russian consulate in Seattle.
Moscow awaits The US may retract the Russian New York Consulate in retaliation, Lukyanov said.
U. K. Prime Minister
has warned of the possibility of further economic sanctions in a country where Russian money has invaded the upper ranks of British society.
Analysts said that any action against Russia's financial interests could cause Moscow to react where it has clout where both Russia and the US have troops supporting opposing sides. Last month, a US air strike in a rare direct confrontation killed an undefined number of Russian contractors in resource-rich eastern Syria.
Earlier this month,
General Valery Gerasimov,
The head of the Russian armed forces tightened the rhetoric and warned that Russia would respond with violence if the lives of its soldiers in Syria were threatened.
Friday, Friday, Russia released footage of a test of Sarmat, its new nuclear weapons camp, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
"The impact of four-year sanctions on Russia should only affect the consolidation of anti-US factions in the political establishment, "said
The uncertainty over the position of US President Donald Trump in Moscow has meanwhile been fueled by some of his comments and by evidence revealed by an investigation by the Special Envoy for the deployment of the Trump campaign ahead of Russia before 2016. Earlier this month, following the poisoning by Skripal, the president was widely criticized for congratulating Putin for re-election in a poll that many independent observers considered unfair.
In response to this criticism, Trump said he must maintain good relations with Mr Putin, because despite the escalating tensions, the US and Russia must continue to work together in areas of mutual interest – such as North Korea, Syria and Iran. "Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing" he wrote on Twitter .
-Ian Talley in Washington has contributed to this article.
Contact Thomas Grove at [email protected]