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3RD UPDATE: Moscow Blasts US Sanctions As "Primitive," Promises Retaliation

Thu, 17th Jul 2014 14:20

Moscow/Kiev (Alliance News) - Russia reacted with a mix of outrage and indifference at the latest Western sanctions on Thursday, while the Ukrainian government accused Moscow of shooting down one of its fighter planes.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said US measures against a number of state corporations are "a primitive attempt at revenge because events in Ukraine are not developing according to Washington's scenario," and added that it reserves the right to retaliate.

Sergei Ryabkov, a deputy Foreign Minister, told the Interfax news agency that Moscow will hit back with measures that "will be felt in Washington painfully and sharply."

President Vladimir Putin called the US sanctions an act of "aggressive and unprofessional" foreign policy that will seriously undermine relations with Washington.

Speaking to reporters in Brasilia late Wednesday, Putin accused the US of encouraging the Ukrainian government "to carry on the fratricidal war and the punitive operation" against separatist rebels in the country's east.

The Russian president said the sanctions will ultimately backfire.

"I am convinced this harms the long-term national interests of both the American state and its people," he said.

In the toughest measures against Moscow so far, US President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced "significant but targeted" sanctions against Russia's financial, energy and defence sectors.

Two of the largest Russian banks, Gazprombank and VEB, and two of the country's largest energy firms, Novatek and Rosneft, will face restrictions on access to US capital markets, the US Treasury Department said.

The sanctions however do not prohibit US individuals from doing other types of business with the firms.

Also hit are Russia's Kalashnikov and Uralvagonzavod arms manufacturers.

Obama demanded Russia halt the flow of weapons and fighters across its border with Ukraine.

The EU announced it would also sanction Russian companies suspected of supporting the separatist uprising in Ukraine, but a list of firms will only be drawn up by the end of July.

The bloc also said it was suspending new investments by the European Investment Bank, and it would seek similar measures from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is co-owned by 30 countries.

US officials stressed that Obama held close consultations with European leaders before making the decision.

Analysts however said the EU's much softer measures reflect growing divisions between Washington and Brussels over their policies vis-a-vis Moscow because European countries have much deeper business and energy ties with Russia.

"The US will build pressure at no cost to itself, while the EU is divided on economic and geopolitical grounds," said Dmitry Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow centre.

Igor Sechin, the CEO of state oil company Rosneft, said the sanctions were "unfounded, biased and illegal," because his company had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine.

Sechin, a close ally of Putin, argued that the sanctions' real aim was to prevent Russia from carrying out sovereign policies and to undermine its citizens' economic well-being, Russian news agencies reported.

"God sees everything and He corrects everything," Sechin was quoted as saying.

The Association of European Business, a Moscow-based lobbying group, said it strongly disagrees with the US sanctions against Russian companies not involved in Ukraine.

"These companies and banks are reliable and long-term partners of many European companies," the group said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council accused Russia of shooting down one of its fighter jets on Wednesday evening.

A Russian Air Force plane fired a rocket at a Ukrainian Su-25 over Ukrainian territory, Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters in Kiev, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.

The Ukrainian pilot ejected from the plane and survived.

Copyright dpa

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