Russia slaps tit-for-tat sanctions on US leaders

Moscow, March 21: Russia barred Thursday a number of US politicians from entering the country in a tit-for-tat move over Washington’s sanctions.

The list includes nine politicians, namely US Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson; Daniel Pfeiffer, Assistant and Senior Advisor to US President Barack Obama; Benjamin Rhodes, Assistant to Obama; House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, Xinhua quoted Russian foreign ministry as saying in a statement.

It also included the likes of Harry Reid, Majority Whip at the US Senate; Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate committee on foreign relations and senators Mary Landrieu, Daniel Coats and John McCain.

The list came three days after the US imposed sanctions against at least seven senior Russian state officials and members of the parliament over Moscow’s recognition of Crimea’ s Sunday referendum, where joining Russia received a landslide support from the Crimean population.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that “the use of sanctions is a double-edged sword” which will hit the US back, the statement said.

“One may or may not like such a decision, but this is the reality to be reckoned with,” it said, adding “our response to every hostile move will be adequate”.

Also Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was puzzled by the US sanction list.

“One can say straight away that we are extremely bewildered by the presence of some names on the list … the very practice of appearance of any lists is unacceptable for us,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Peskov said Moscow was still studying the list so as to “understand exactly what these sanctions are about”.

During separate talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his “deep concern” over the seizure of Ukrainian military bases and the Crimean referendum, local media said.

Noting the current situation surrounding Ukraine was disappointing and alarming, Ban said it was necessary to establish open and constructive dialogue between Moscow and Kiev.