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Sanctions pressure on Russia continues despite Ukraine de-escalation - envoy

September 11, 2014, 23:54 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

"Sanctions are devoid not only of political sense, not to mention the economic one, but, in this situation, of elementary logic,” Russian Federation’s permanent representative to the EU said

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© ITAR-TASS/Grigory Sysoev

BRUSSELS, September 11. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union’s sanctions against Russia are devoid of elementary logic as they are adopted despite de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian Federation’s permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told journalists Thursday.

Chizhov’s statement came after today’s decision by the EU to expand sanctions against Russia over developments in Ukraine. In his words, it is “a definitely negative signal” that “shows that the EU has failed to get out of the sanctions inertia.”

“Sanctions are devoid not only of political sense, not to mention the economic one, but, in this situation, of elementary logic. A truce is in place in the east of Ukraine. Although separate violations are registered, but in general it works, which is noted in Moscow, Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk,” he said.

“The process to exchange captives is proceeding, although not smoothly; political work to implement agreements regarding the special status of Donbass [Donetsk and Lugansk regions] is underway. De-escalation of the conflict, which the EU and other Western participants have repeatedly called for and which they expect of Russia is obvious,” Chizhov said.

“So it turns out that there is de-escalation but the sanctions pressure continues,” he stressed. “The EU seems to be living in some alternative reality.”

“This does not leave the Russian side any other choice than to resort to certain countermeasures,” Chizhov said.

“Of course, we need to see the content of sanctions, as we only have a brief description now. The official publication of the decision is announced for tomorrow, but we are certainly not expecting anything good of it. I don’t think the EU has to expect anything good of us either,” he concluded.

The EU’s new sanctions against Moscow will take effect Friday, September 12, when they are published in the Official Journal of the EU.

The new set of penalties includes a ban on borrowing on the EU market for three Russian oil and gas companies and for three defense companies, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a statement without disclosing names of the companies.

The EU has also prohibited companies-residents to provide deep-sea drilling services to their Russian partners, to develop Arctic or shale oil deposits in Russia.

The new sanctions could have already been approved on September 5, but the implementation was postponed due to the ceasefire in Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the EU will raise the number of Russian companies unable to borrow on the European markets, and that the new list will include three major state-run oil companies Gazprom Neft, Transneft and Rosneft, and defense firms Oboronprom, United Aircraft Corporation and Uralvagonzavod.

A diplomatic source told Reuters that the measures will cover Russian state-owned companies with a turnover of U.S. $27 billion, in which oil transportation accounts for no less than half, meaning that Transneft, Rosneft and Gazprom Neft will be on the list. The new sanctions do not cover the gas industry.

Russian officials and companies came under Western sanctions, including visa bans, asset freezes, and sectoral restrictions for Russia's incorporation of Crimea after a coup in Ukraine in February and for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in mass protests in Ukraine’s embattled southeast, which Russia has repeatedly denied.

In response, Moscow imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.

Fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), have killed hundreds of civilians, brought massive destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s southeast.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during OSCE-mediated talks in Belarusian capital Minsk on September 5. The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day.

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