MASCOW:- Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a counter-sanctions bill in response to the US' latest sanctions against the country.
The Monday signed legislation will be applied to any state or person for "hostile actions" against Russia and permits authorities to halt international cooperation with foreign states, and to impose import and export restrictions and other measures.
The new measures, designed to safeguard "economic interests and security," was drafted by State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and the heads of all four parliamentary caucuses in mid-April and approved by Russian lawmakers by the end of May.
On April 6, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the fresh sanctions on the Russian Oligarchs and 12 companies they own, 17 senior Russian officials and a state-owned arms export firm, over a range of activities, including Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
The US imposes sanctions on several Russian officials and businessmen accusing them of "malign activity."
Companies like Gazprom, Burenie and Renova group have also been added to the sanctions list while the US assets of "oligarchs" such as aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, whose family controls Russia's largest gold producer, Polyus, have been frozen.
Washington said the punitive measures are in response to Russia's policies regarding Ukraine and Syria, as well as its cyber activities and attempts to subvert Western democracies. The US sanctions are the most significant since Crimea's re-integration with Russia in 2014.
Moscow has already banned a wide range of food imports to Russia from Western countries in 2014, retaliating against US-led sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, with which Russia says it has nothing to do.
Meanwhile, Putin has said that his country and the US may avoid a new arms race together, and that he expects that work in this area to commence.
"In a telephone conversation [US President] Donald [Trump] said that he is worried with a new arms race, and I agree with him. We were not initiators of this scenario. As you know, we did not withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty," said Putin.
"The US president's opinion that we should think of how to avoid a new arms race...And I hope that this work will start between us directly, personally, as well," he added.
Last month, Trump reportedly Putin that if Washington and Moscow reignite the arms race, the United States would win it.
Trump has reportedly told Putin that if Washington and Moscow reignite the arms race, the US would win it.
Earlier in the month, Putin expressed concerns about the new US nuclear posture which he said has lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.
The new American policy allows the use of nuclear weapons "in response to a conventional attack or even a cyberthreat," the Russian president said, adding, "Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against her or her allies, or a conventional attack against us that threatens the very existence of the state."
Putin also said that Russia had tested a number of new advanced strategic weapons, which could not be intercepted, saying they would render US-made defense missile systems "useless." He also said that the West has ignored Russia but should "listen to us now."