Russia aims to cut dependence on US payment systems

Russia aims to cut dependence on US payment systems
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Russia is reportedly working to cut back its dependence on U.S. payment systems and the use of the American dollar as a settling currency, signaling the Kremlin is taking further retaliatory measures in response to new U.S. sanctions.

"We will, of course, intensify work related to import substitution, reduction of dependence on U.S. payment systems, on the dollar as a settling currency and so on. It is becoming a vital need," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday, according to a Reuters report that cited the RIA news agency. 

The report comes after Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Regulation: Trump adviser affirms plans to leave climate deal | FDA to study new cigarette warning labels | DOJ investigating Equifax stock sales Top US security official targeted in Cuba Embassy covert attacks: report Trump adviser tells foreign officials no change on Paris climate deal MORE and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, had their first bilateral meeting following the Russia sanctions bill that President Trump signed into law last week.

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Trump reluctantly signed the bipartisan measure into law Wednesday. The legislation, which had a veto-proof majority in Congress, slaps new sanctions against Russia while also limiting the president's ability to lessen those sanctions.

The new U.S. financial penalties come in response to Russia's military actions in Ukraine, where it is supporting armed separatists, and its meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russia called the measure a "fully fledged trade war" and issued its own retaliatory response: demanding the reduction of U.S. diplomatic personnel by 750 by Sept. 1 and planning to take over diplomatic property previously used by the U.S.

The news wire's report of Russia moving away from U.S. economic systems is a sign of further steps Russia is taking in response to the sanctions.

Trump also lashed out at lawmakers for endorsing the sanctions measure while blaming Congress for fostering a tense relationship with Moscow.

“By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia and North Korea much closer together,” Trump said Wednesday.

“Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us [healthcare]!” he tweeted a day later.