Russia said it will retaliate next week against American media after the US government ordered state broadcaster RT to register as a foreign agent, following accusations it interfered in last year’s presidential elections.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on November 9 that “practical implementation” of steps in response to the US move will begin next week. Russian authorities have repeatedly said their retaliation will mirror any restrictions imposed by the US.
In September, the US Department of Justice sent a letter to the company, claiming it is obligated to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The law demands the disclosure of the channel’s confidential data, including the personal data of its staff. The move “will have serious legal consequences” and “compromise the safety of [RT] employees,” the Russian Foreign Ministry previously explained.
Washington will apply its Foreign Agents Registration Act to RT America, the channel has announced on November 9. The Department of Justice has given the broadcaster until November 13 to register as a foreign agent, otherwise the channel’s head faces arrest and its accounts could be frozen. RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said that the timeframe provided for the company is a “cannibalistic.” She previously said that the channel was being forced into “conditions in which we cannot work” in the US, and called Washington’s demand an attempt to “drive [RT] out of the country.” While RT America will comply with the DOJ’s demand and register as a “foreign agent,” the company will challenge the decision in court, Simonyan said.
This coincided with US Congress announcing it plans to spend $4.6 million to counter Russia in Eastern Europe in 2018.
Within the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, under a category entitled, “Countering Russian Aggression,” $4.6 billion is set aside for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) to “reassure NATO allies and enhance the US deterrent and defense postures in Europe,” NDAA calling for $350 million to “provide security assistance to Ukraine, including defensive lethal assistance.”
In 2015, the budget for supporting Eastern European US allies consisted of $750 million, while 2016 saw it rise to $3.5 billion.