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Russia threatens to freeze cooperation with US

  • Russian lawmakers submit bill which includes restrictions for US products
  • Bill could affect American firms with considerable sales in Russia like Boeing
  • Russia could target US software, farm goods, medicines, tobacco, and alcohol
  • Proposed law is in response to American sanctions against pro-Putin oligarchs 

By Associated Press and Reuters

Published: 07:16 EDT, 13 April 2018 | Updated: 19:55 EDT, 13 April 2018

Russian lawmakers have submitted a wide-ranging bill that could freeze crucial exports to the United States while also restricting a variety of American imports.

The bill, which was drafted by leading lawmakers at the State Duma in response to the new round of US sanctions announced last week, proposes a wide range of restrictions for US businesses in Russia and for cooperation with the US.

Among them is a proposal to ban or restrict titanium exports that are crucial for US aircraft maker Boeing.

Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told Russian news agencies that the bill could be put up for vote next week.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the Kremlin has yet to see the bill and come up with its decision on it.

Russian lawmakers loyal to President Vladimir Putin (left) submitted a bill that would target American imports
Russian lawmakers loyal to President Vladimir Putin (left) submitted a bill that would target American imports

Russian lawmakers loyal to President Vladimir Putin (left) submitted a bill that would target American imports

Senior lawmakers in the State Duma, which is dominated by Kremlin loyalists, said they had prepared the list ranging from food and alcohol to medicine and consulting services in response to Washington's move last week.

The Kremlin itself has not said if it backs the draft legislation - which would allow the government to impose the measures should the need arise - and it was not clear if would it become law in its current form. 

The Russian parliament is often used to send assertive messages to foreign states, but these do not always translate into concrete measures.

Large-scale restrictions on US goods and services would hurt American firms but could also cause significant disruption in Russia, where consumers flock to McDonald's restaurants, fly on vacation in Boeing jets, and use Apple phones.

The draft law, according to a text seen by Reuters, is aimed at protecting Russia's interests and security in the face of 'unfriendly and unlawful acts by the United States of America and other foreign states.'

Russian currency and stock markets, preoccupied with the threat of US military action in Syria and the fallout from Washington's new sanctions, did not react to the draft legislation.

Last week, President Donald Trump approved tough sanctions against pro-Putin oligarchs
Last week, President Donald Trump approved tough sanctions against pro-Putin oligarchs

Last week, President Donald Trump approved tough sanctions against pro-Putin oligarchs

It is to be discussed in the lower house next week.

The proposed measures are in retaliation for the White House's imposition of the toughest set of sanctions on Russia since Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, which dragged relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Moscow reacted then with countersanctions banning a wide range of food imports from Western countries.

Russia imported $12.5billion worth of US products in 2017, according to official customs data. 

That included aircraft, machinery, pharmaceutical and chemical products.

The draft legislation would give authorities the power to impose bans or restrictions in multiple areas of trade with the United States if they deemed that Washington was threatening Russia's interests.

The sectors listed in the draft which could be subject to bans or restrictions include US-made software and farm goods, US medicines that can be sourced elsewhere, and tobacco and alcohol.

It gives the government the power to ban cooperation with the US on atomic power, rocket engines and aircraft making, and to bar US firms from taking part in Russian privatization deals.

The provision of auditing, legal and consulting services by US firms could also be subject to bans or restrictions, and curbs could be imposed on US citizens working in Russia.

Western companies, including Ford Motor Co, PepsiCo Inc and Coca-Cola's bottler Coca-Cola HBC , have also invested billions of dollars since the fall of the Soviet Union to set up local production in Russia.   

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