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Russian Legislators Propose Ban On U.S. Goods, Services


Russian State Duma deputy speaker Ivan Melnikov (file photo)

A group of Russian State Duma members has proposed banning or restricting the import of a raft of U.S. goods and services in response to fresh U.S. sanctions.

State Duma deputy speaker Ivan Melnikov said on April 13 that it would also restrict economic ties.

The draft law is set to be discussed in parliament’s lower chamber next week, although it is unclear whether it will pass in its current form or whether the Kremlin backs the measures.

Analysts say the Kremlin occasionally uses the parliament to send strong messages to foreign powers, but that does not always translate into specific action.

The Kremlin said it had not yet studied the proposed legislation, but that it was understandable that State Duma members wanted to retaliate.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on April 13 that any response by Moscow to the sanctions imposed by Washington would not harm Russia's interests.

The draft legislation was presented to reporters by deputy speakers of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, which is dominated by Kremlin loyalists.

The draft proposal would empower the government to ban or restrict imports of U.S.-made software and farm goods, U.S. medicines that can be sourced elsewhere, and tobacco and alcohol.

It would also potentially ban cooperation with the United States on nuclear power, rocket engines, and aircraft making. The draft would also bar U.S. firms from taking part in Russian privatization deals.

Some of the proposed bans, such as that of software, would not prohibit private Russian individuals from bringing these goods into the country.

The bill would also enable the government to apply similar measures to goods and services of other countries seemed to be deserving of punitive measures.

The proposed measures come after the United States on April 6 imposed asset freezes and financial restrictions on a raft of Russian security officials, politicians, and tycoons believed to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin -- part of an attempt to punish Moscow for what the U.S. Treasury Department called "malign activity around the globe."

Russia called the measures "unacceptable" and said it reserved the right to retaliate.

Russian imports from the United States amounted to $12.5 billion in 2017, according to official Russian customs data. That included aircraft, machinery, pharmaceutical and chemical products.

U.S. companies, including Ford and Coca-Cola, have invested billions of dollars since the fall of the Soviet Union to set up local production in Russia.

In 2014, Russia banned a wide range of food imports from Western countries in retaliation for international sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.

The bill would also enable the government to apply similar measures to goods and services of other countries seemed to be deserving of punitive measures.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

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