Russia said yesterday it will support companies hit by fresh U.S. sanctions as the ruble and Russian stocks dropped sharply.
The ruble dropped to its lowest level against the dollar since late 2016, while shares in sanctioned aluminum producer Rusal plunged.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin backs efforts to mitigate the effect of the sanctions package, which he called "egregious in its lawlessness."
"Time is needed for analysis to understand the size of the real damage and to work out steps to correct the situation, for the maximum possible correction," he said. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered his Cabinet to draw up measures to support sanctioned companies in the energy, metals and arms sectors, Russian news agencies reported.
Shares in sanctioned aluminum producer Rusal, which is controlled by the billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska, plunged just over 50 percent on the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday.
Rusal said the sanctions "may result in technical defaults in relation to certain credit obligations."
"The company's initial assessment is that it is highly likely that the impact may be materially adverse to the business and prospects of the group," Rusal said in a statement.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday announced sanctions against seven leading Russian businessmen, 17 officials and a dozen Russian companies.
Besides Deripaska, targets included Alexei Miller, the head of state natural gas giant Gazprom, and Andrey Kostin, the head of the state-controlled VTB Bank, which is Russia's second-largest.