Russia is considering expanding its sanctions against Western leaders. During a cabinet meeting Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the government will study the need to expand the list of countries covered by the sanctions, reported the Russian state news site Tass.
"If it is really the case, it is necessary to prepare an appeal to the president to supplement the decree with an additional number of countries supporting such decisions," he said. "I would ask the Ministry of Agriculture and the government’s administration to clarify this issue and, if necessary, to prepare an appeal of the government to change those acts, which we approved earlier, and proposals how to supplement the decree of the president."
Medvedev did not detail which countries could be affected. Last week, seven European countries -- Montenegro, Albania, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Ukraine and Georgia -- voted to join the European Union’s sanctions against Crimea and Sevastopol through June 23, 2016. EU members and the United States imposed sanctions on Russia last year after it annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and its continued support of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Last year, Russia countered the sanctions with its own ban on imports of food products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway. The Kremlin extended the ban last month following the EU's decision to extend its sanctions through January, the Associated Press reported.
A steady fall in the price of oil has also hurt Russia's economy. The Russian economy is expected to contract 2.7 percent this year before beginning a gradual recovery in 2016, the World Bank has estimated.
The Obama administration has placed various Russian leaders, firms and entities on blacklists that freeze any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions. The sanctions also prohibit Americans from doing business with them.