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MOSCOW, September 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia has no desire to continue a war of sanctions and an exchange of blows, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.
“We’re not interested in the current period to stay on indefinitely,” Lavrov said in an interview with the St. Petersburg television broadcaster Channel 5.
“We have no desire to continue a war of sanctions and an exchange of blows. We’ll not do this just for the sake of doing harm to someone as is the case with our partners when they take coercive measures against us,” Lavrov said.
“As Russian President Vladimir Putin said, we’ll think about protecting our economic and other interests,” Lavrov said.
“I don’t think it [the situation] will persist for long but it will take some period of time. It is, first of all, important that our partners should realize that ultimatums and threats have no prospects,” the Russian foreign minister said.
“On our part, there is no lack of good will,” Lavrov said.
Western sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory measures
The West started to impose sanctions on Russia in March 2014 over the events in Ukraine. First, an early EU summit stalled the talks on a visa-free regime and a new base agreement on Russia-EU cooperation. Further on, the sanctions were grouped into three categories - personal, corporate and sectoral.
By the beginning of September, some 420 Russian individuals and 143 companies had been put on the sanction lists of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Switzerland and Norway.
The sectoral sanctions imposed for a term of one year include an embargo on the supply of arms to Russia and the importation of Russian weapons and related materials, a ban on the delivery of dual-purpose products and technologies to Russia, as well as innovative technologies for Russia’s oil extracting industry.
In mid-September, the European Union published new sanctions against Russia in its official journal.
The fresh sanctions reduce the period of lending for state-run Russian banks Sberbank, VTB, VEB, Gazprombank and Russian Agricultural Bank from 90 to 30 days. Similar sectoral sanctions were earlier imposed by the United States.
In retaliation, Russia imposed a one-year ban on food and raw material imports from the countries that had slapped their sanctions against Moscow.
Russia’s foreign minister also said that the Russian president’s peace initiatives actually paved the way for a dialog between the warring sides in Ukraine.
“President Vladimir Putin has put forward initiatives with regard to providing assistance to Ukrainians to settle their military and political crisis, the crisis of statehood, which also has to be overcome (and this can be done only by Ukrainians themselves), and with regard to the search for compromises in economic relations with us, Ukrainians and the European Union,” Lavrov said.
“Now the Russian president’s initiatives have actually opened the way for a dialog in these directions. The dialog is proceeding and results have been achieved in fulfilling the Minsk documents [on the ceasefire between the Ukrainian troops and self-defense militias in southeast Ukraine],” the Russian foreign minister said.
“The ceasefire regime is being established, although not without problems and mechanisms of control over it are being introduced and talks between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine are starting and gas negotiations are resuming,” the Russian foreign minister said.
“If everyone showed similar good will, we would have exited this abnormal period long ago,” the Russian foreign minister said.
“The decision taken by the European Union and Ukraine to postpone until the end of 2015 those parts of the Association Agreement that create risks for the Russian economy generally means the same what [former Ukrainian President] Viktor Yanukovych requested,” Lavrov said.
“He [Yanukovych] said: I want to postpone the signing, give us more time to think about it,” Lavrov said.
“The same result [which was possible in November 2013 when Yanukovych said he was postponing the signing of the document] achieved ten months later at a big price of human losses and destruction will certainly not be regarded as a positive achievement of those who started all this,” the Russian foreign minister said.
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the economic part of the Ukraine-EU association agreement in late 2013 sparked mass street protests that led to his ouster in February this year.