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Russia's Ambassador to the USA Anatoly Antonov gives an interview to the TASS news agency. Valery Sharifulin/TASS

The US Congress’ call for new sanctions against Russia, including restrictions on the country’s leadership, will not intimidate Moscow, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said in response to media questions.

“We believe that the calls on the Capitol Hill for the introduction of ‘crippling’ anti-Russian restrictions, as well as personal sanctions against the top leadership of the Russian Federation, are provocative and hopeless. We will not be intimidated by restrictions,” he said, according to a statement published on the embassy’s Facebook page.

“Behind the demands of lawmakers to punish our country more painfully lies an attempt to influence Russia against the background of ongoing negotiations on European security. We see such pressure as the inability of the United States to defend its point of view at the negotiating table in a reasoned manner,” Antonov pointed out.

According to him, “the assertions about the alleged plan of an attack on a neighboring state being hatched by our country are a figment of the sick imagination of local Russophobic circles.” “This is the result of their mental disorder. The answer is unambiguous: we have no aggressive intentions towards Ukraine,” the envoy stressed, adding: “It seems that US politicians have launched the myth of an ‘imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine’ in the media and are now facing their own phobias.”

The Russian ambassador emphasized that “in these circumstances, we would recommend American lawmakers to engage in the formation of a bipartisan consensus on the withdrawal of the USA from the deepest economic and political crisis.”

“We are against confrontation. Our choice is to build equal pragmatic relations between Russia and the USA. It is time for politicians in Washington to abandon threats. Such a strategy will not bring any benefit to the US people. International security, which needs wise and thoughtful actions, will lose. We have presented our initiatives to bring the situation out of the crisis. On January 10, they were explained in Geneva, and on January 12 in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels,” Antonov noted.

“We are waiting for an adequate response – not in the form of populist statements, but reasoned written proposals,” the Russian envoy added.

On Wednesday, a group of US lawmakers unveiled a bill to impose restrictions on Russia, which is related to tensions around Ukraine and includes sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, the country’s prime minister, foreign and defense ministers, the chief of the General Staff and other top military officials. Restrictions may also target the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

The West and Kiev have recently been spreading allegations about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as “empty and unfounded”, serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such allegations and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have serious consequences.

On Wednesday, a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council took place in Brussels, which was the second round of consultations between Russia and Western countries on Moscow’s proposals on European security. The first meeting in the series, which involved Russia and the United States, was held in Geneva on January 10, and the third round of talks will take place on the OSCE platform in Vienna on January 13.