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'Economic wars often turn into real ones,' Russia warns France

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev gives an interview at the Gorki state residence outside Moscow, Russia, January 25, 2022. (Photo via AFP)

Russia's top security official hits back at France for threatening Moscow with “an economic war,” saying such wars had often turned into real ones throughout history.

Former President and Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev made the warning on Tuesday, after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire threatened to wage “total economic and financial war on Russia.”

Le Maire said that the European Union (EU) “will bring about the collapse of the Russian economy” over Moscow’s large-scale military operation in Ukraine.

"The economic and financial balance of power is totally in favor of the European Union which is in the process of discovering its own economic power," he added.

Medvedev said in response that “some French minister has said that they declared an economic war on Russia.”

"Watch your tongue, gentlemen! And don’t forget that in human history, economic wars quite often turned into real ones," he wrote in a Twitter message.

The EU, the United States, and Britain imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered a military invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. They have agreed to freeze the assets of Russia's Central Bank and to limit its ability to access its $630bn in foreign exchange reserves.

According to Le Maire, the total amount of the Russian assets being frozen amounted to "almost 1,000 billion dollars."

The West has also agreed to remove selected Russian banks from the global SWIFT banking system, which enables the transfer of money across borders. The move is aimed at cutting Russia off from the international financial system.

The decision will delay the payments Russia gets for exports of oil and gas.

Russia is ranked second by number of users of the platform, after the United States. Experts say Washington and Berlin would stand to lose the most if Russia were cut from SWIFT because banks in the US and Germany most frequently use the banking system to communicate with Russian banks.

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