West is trying to ‘cancel’ Russia with sanctions for invasion of Ukraine, claims Kremlin spy chief

Russia’s foreign intelligence director Sergei Naryshkin spoke of ‘attempts to destroy our state’

Sravasti Dasgupta
Monday 07 March 2022 09:44 GMT

Related: Putin ‘doesn’t care’ about sanctions against Russia, says defence secretary

Russia’s foreign intelligence director Sergei Naryshkin has claimed the west is trying to ‘cancel’ his country - alluding to cancel culture - after world powers imposed sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

“The masks have been dropped. The west is not just trying to surround Russia with a new Iron Curtain,” he said. “We are talking about attempts to destroy our state — its ‘cancellation,’ as it is now customary to say in a ‘tolerant’ liberal-fascist environment.”

Mr Naryshkin’s comments were posted on the website of Russian intelligence agency SVR, and then appeared on the Russian site RIA Novosti.

“Western politicians and commentators like to call what is happening a ‘new Cold War’,” Mr Naryshkin said.

“It seems that historical parallels are not entirely appropriate here. If only because in the second half of the 20th century, Russia fought with the West on the distant approaches, and now the war has come to the very borders of our Motherland.”

“So for us it is definitely not ‘cold’, but quite ‘hot’,” he added.

The Russian official’s comments come as the country faces a string of economic sanctions from countries in the west. The UK, US and EU have banned top Russian banks from the Swift financial system, the rouble has plummeted, and Russians have been seen struggling to get cash out of ATMs.

The US has also joined Europe and Canada in closing its airspace to Russian airlines.

In addition, Russia’s central bank is also facing heat after the US, EU and UK limited the ability of Russia’s central bank to draw on more than $600bn in foreign currency reserves.

Ordinary Russians will see the price of imported goods soar, pushing inflation to 20 per cent and ushering in a period of turmoil that would echo the upheavals that followed the fall of the Soviet Union, economists have warned.

Prior to Mr Naryshkin’s comments, several commentators in the US had also pointed to sanctions as a manifestation of cancel culture in geo-politics.

In a tweet, Jason Willick, a columnist for The Washington Post, said: “We are witnessing the first geopolitical ‘cancellation’ of the 21st century.”

Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, former assistant secretary of the Treasury, Monica Crowley, said: “Russia is now being canceled” in part because of the sanctions.

Sanctions from the West have come in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week after president Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Despite fierce resistance by the Ukrainians, Mr Putin has said that the invasion is going according to plan.

Over the last nine days, the full scale invasion has resulted in more than a million people fleeing the country, in what has been described as the swiftest exodus of the last century.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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