Moscow sees Washington’s potential sanctions for delayed evacuation of foreign citizens as politicized, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with International Affairs magazine published on Friday.
"Some politicized claims can be made, of course, however, we see them solely as claims that do not correspond to the practical aspect of things. This is how we will react to further development of the measures behind this signal from the White House that you have mentioned," Ryabkov said, commenting on the memorandum of US President Donald Trump, which threatens to introduce visa sanctions against foreign countries that refuse to evacuate their citizens from the US or that are stalling this process in the conditions of a pandemic, TASS reports.
The high-ranking diplomat noted that so far, not much is known about this memorandum. "We are currently making sense of it," he said.
"We can see that in the past weeks, Washington has sent out rather confusing and contradictory signals," Ryabkov continued. "There is a certain intention to shift responsibility for what is happening in the US on others, to find a foreign enemy, to try and divert the attention of the US public and the international community, at least the part of it that traditionally closely follows all signals from Washington, to some ‘shenanigans,’" he said.
The deputy foreign minister stressed that Russia is doing everything in its power to ensure that all Russian citizens abroad who express a wish to return home can do so. "We are working 24/7, this is not an exaggeration. With no days-off. The foreign ministry is giving the utmost attention to this in cooperation with other executive bodies, and we will continue to do so," Ryabkov added.
It was reported on April 11 that Trump had signed a memorandum which rules to introduce visa sanctions against states that refuse to evacuate their citizens from the US or that are stalling this process during the coronavirus pandemic. The US secretary of homeland security must provide a list of such countries to the US secretary of state. After that, the US Department of State must introduce visa sanctions against those states within a 7-day period.
In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 2,190,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 147,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 553,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.