Sep 20, 2019 18:46 UTC
  • Russia vows to continue banking cooperation with Iran despite 'illegitimate' US sanctions

Russia has dismissed "illegitimate" sanctions imposed by the United States on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), vowing to continue its cooperation with the Islamic Republic in the banking sector.

The US Department of the Treasury announced in a press release on Friday that its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had taken action against the CBI, the National Development Fund of Iran (NDF), and Etemad Tejarate Pars Co. under its counter-terrorism authority.

It claimed that the CBI had provided billions of dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), its Quds Force and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Addressing reporters at the White House on Friday, US President Donald Trump said the new sanctions represent the "highest sanctions ever imposed on a foreign country."

After the announcement of the new sanctions, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said Moscow would not be affected by Washington's new punitive measures against Tehran.

"This will not affect our approaches to Iran. As we planned, we will continue to cooperate with Iran in the banking sector. This will have no effect [on Russia's position]," said Zamir Kabulov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Second Asian Department.

The Trump administration has vowed a response after US officials blamed Iran for an attack against two Saudi oil facilities over the weekend.

On September 14, Yemen's Ansarullah fighters conducted strikes on two of Saudi Arabia's oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. The attacks led to a halt in about 50 percent of the kingdom's crude and gas production, causing a surge in oil prices.

The Ansarullah movement officially took credit for the attacks, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swiftly blamed Iran. Furthermore, President Trump said a short while later that the US was “locked and loaded” for a response at the behest of Riyadh, although he later said he wanted no conflict with any country.