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Russia Hits Back at Biden: We Are Ready for 'Unfriendly Steps'

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Russia hit back at tough talk by Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, saying it could cope if the White House imposed further sanctions over its actions in Ukraine.

"We shan't give up on cooperation with foreign companies, including from Western countries, but we will be ready for unfriendly steps," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the Russian parliament.

"I am sure we can minimize their impact," he said, according to a translation by the Reuters news agency. "We will not allow our citizens to become hostages of political games."

Medvedev said that some Russian banks had been affected in their international payments, and called this "a violation of existing agreements" which "must not go unpunished."

His comments came the same day Biden told a news conference in Kiev that Russia should "stop supporting men hiding behind masks." The U.S. also pledged a $58 million aid package to the Ukrainian government.

Biden hinted that Russia had only a matter of days until it incurred more sanctions from the U.S. In March, the Treasury Department announced a list of 27 names, including figures in Russian politics and businessmen Vladimir Putin's inner circle, who had been slapped with travel bans and asset freezes.

Russia's state-run broadcaster Russia Today said Medvedev "scoffed" at the idea of new sanctions during his speech to parliament Tuesday.

Reuters contributed to this report.

- Alexander Smith

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