Diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States hit a new low. The West has already frozen around half of Russia’s gold reserves and foreign exchange. In the event of further US sanctions, Russia threatens a radical break.

Russia threatens to sever diplomatic relations with the United States if Russian assets are confiscated. “We warn Americans about the adverse consequences of such measures, which will permanently damage bilateral relations,” State Department North America chief Alexander Dartchev said in an interview with the state news agency TASS. This could not be in the interest of either the United States or Russia. Initially, it remained unclear to which assets Dartschiev was referring.

Western countries have so far frozen around half of Russia’s gold reserves and foreign exchange, which were close to 640 billion dollars before the Ukraine war, as part of the sanctions against Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine. According to the US government, assets worth 30 billion dollars have also been seized by oligarchs.

Entrepreneurs who are said to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin are affected. Yachts, helicopters, real estate and works of art were confiscated. Leading Western politicians such as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell have suggested using the funds to rebuild Ukraine.

Dartcheev also warned the US against declaring Russia a supporter of terrorists. Even in this case, a severance of relations is possible. “The American side has been warned,” he told Tass.

Referring to Ukraine, Dartchev said American influence in the government in Kyiv had grown to such an extent that the United States was becoming a direct participant in the conflict. He confirmed the two states were negotiating to swap US-imprisoned arms dealer Viktor Bout for Russia-imprisoned basketball player Brittney Griner and ex-soldier Paul Whelan.