* Russia looking at range of responses to U.S. sanctions
* U.S., EU imposed sanctions on Russian, Ukrainian officials
* Suggests response may be found in Iran talks
(Adds details, quotes)
By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW, March 19 Moscow will respond in kind to
U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian officials over the Crimea
dispute and is considering other steps if Washington escalates
tensions, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on
On Monday, the United States and the EU announced sanctions
on a handful of officials from Russia and Ukraine accused of
involvement in Moscow's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region, most
of whose 2 million residents are ethnic Russians.
Washington has threatened further sanctions while Russian
lawmakers raced to ratify a treaty making Crimea part of Russia
by the end of the week.
"We are looking at a broad range of responsive measures.
They can be identical measures regarding certain lists of
American officials - not necessarily representatives of the
administration ... who have influenced American policies,"
Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Interfax.
"There is also the possibility of passing asymmetrical
measures, that means steps which, let's say ... won't go
unnoticed in Washington," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the
sanctions "unacceptable." But some of the Russians included on
the list of individuals have scoffed at the measures which would
freeze their assets in the United States.
Ryabkov gave few details on what form those measures could
take but suggested that six-party talks over Iran's nuclear
programme could provide a means of response.
"Moscow would not want to use these talks as an element of
raising the diplomatic stakes," he said.
"But if we are forced, we will follow here a path of
responsive measures because in the end the historical importance
of what has happened in the last days and weeks regarding the
... reunification of Crimea with Russia is incomparable to what
we are doing regarding Iran."
Failure of the six world powers to come to an agreement with
Iran at the negotiating table may have domestic political
implications for U.S. President Barack Obama who has been
criticised for his softer stance on Iran.
Ryabkov was present at talks held on Wednesday over the
future of an Iranian nuclear reactor, which the West sees as a
possible source of plutonium bombs. The two sides appeared to
reach no agreements and participants have promised to meet again
on April 7-9.
Russia has closer ties with Iran than the Western powers
have and has been seen to use its relationship with the Islamic
Republic in the past as a lever of influence over the West.
(Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and