Putin says sanctions inflict ‘serious damage’ to US-Russia ties

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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that Washington’s new biting sanctions against his country will boomerang and hit back at US national interests.

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“Without any doubt in this case (sanctions) are driving Russian-US relations towards a dead-end, (and) are inflicting very serious damage on them,” the state news agency ITAR TASS quoted Putin as saying while on a visit to Brasilia.

“And I am convinced that this will harm the national long-term interests of the American state, the American people,” Putin told reporters.

The Russian strongman reacted sarcastically when a journalist said that Washington had slapped new sanctions against Russia and asked to comment.

“You don’t say!” he was quoted as saying.

Putin, who is on a six-day visit to Latin America, appeared to put on a brave face and indicated Moscow will take time to weigh the possible damage before responding.

“One has to look what these sanctions are, to sort this out thoroughly, without haste, calmly,” he was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.

He accused the United States of behaving aggressively and pointed to crises in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.

US officials, he said, are conducting “rather aggressive foreign policy and rather unprofessionally at that, in my opinion.”

At the same time the Russian strongman expressed hope that common sense would prevail and the two countries would be able to settle all disputes diplomatically.

“It is a pity that our partners are going along this road. But we have not closed a door on a negotiating process, in order to exit this situation.”

He said US energy companies would be among top victims of Washington’s new punitive measures.

“They inflict damage on their largest energy companies and all for what?” the Russian president was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

The United States and Europe dramatically strengthened sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine, with Washington for the first time directly targeting Russia’s banking, military and energy sectors.

The new blows against Russia deepened the most serious standoff between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War, as fighting between the Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists threatened to escalate into all-out civil war.

A deputy foreign minister, speaking earlier Thursday, called the new US sanctions outrageous and unacceptable.

“The US administration’s new decision to enforce sanctions against a number of Russian legal entities and individuals under a far-fetched, false pretext cannot be called anything other than outrageous and fully unacceptable,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency.

He added that Russia would retaliate but did not provide details.

“We condemn those politicians and officials who are behind such actions and confirm our intention to adopt measures which will be perceived in Washington rather painfully and acutely,” Ryabkov said.

“We are not after an immediate effect, we are not going to copy the methods of the US administration that provoke rejection, we will not yield to provocation and act in a calm manner,” the diplomat added.

Putin for his part added that Russia wants to see a quick end to fighting between government forces and separatists in Ukraine.

“Russia is interested, vitally interested in the Ukrainian conflict ending as soon as possible over a number of considerations,” Putin said, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

“I do not know whether there is another country apart from Russia except Ukraine itself which would be so interested in seeing bloodshed end and the situation settle in our neighbor.”

AFP

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