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Finland interested in revision of anti-Russian sanctions - senior Russian lawmaker

November 12, 2014, 23:47 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, November 12. /TASS/. Finland is sustaining economic losses from the European Union’s sanctions against the Russian Federation, and the country is interested in revision of the anti-Russian restrictive measures, a senior Russian lawmaker from the lower house of parliament said Wednesday after this week’s visit to Helsinki.

During his trip to the Finnish capital, the lawmaker - head of the State Duma international affairs committee Alexei Pushkov - met with leaders of key political parties, including the chairman of the Center Party of Finland.

“In conditions when 40% of the country depends on exports, shrinking opportunities that became the result of both EU sanctions and the Russian countermeasures affects Finland the most in the EU,” Pushkov outlined to TASS the position of his Finnish counterparts.

His interlocutors in Helsinki noted a substantial drop in the volume of tourism from Russia - this year, reciprocal visits went down by at least a third.

“Finland’s political class and its business structures would be interested in de-escalation of tensions and the start of revision of the economic sanctions,” the Russian politician said.

Moreover, he said, Austria and some other European Union member states have similar positions. But, Pushkov admitted, “the so-called solidarity in the EU framework and the fact that the sanctions have already been imposed extremely complicate opportunities for them to be revised at this stage.”

The West, inspired by the United States, subjected Russian officials and companies to the first batch of sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February.

New, sectoral, penalties against Russia were announced in late July over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Russia’s alleged involvement in hostilities in Ukraine’s embattled southeast.

Russia responded with imposing 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.

Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.

At the same time, Pushkov said Wednesday that the position of Finland, Austria and some other EU members was the reason why there will be no talk of new economic sanctions at an EU foreign ministerial meeting on November 17, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel already said.

He said Finland “also has a different viewpoint represented by a group of politicians of Euro-Atlantic orientation who believe the current situation should make the Finnish society face the issue of the country’s possible entry to NATO” in the context of alleged threats to European security on the part of the Russian Federation.

“Although the country’s population is on the whole still against giving up the neutral status or moving toward the alliance,” Pushkov said.

Fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway southeastern territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics, have killed over 4,000 people.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire at talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

The ceasefire took effect the same day but has reportedly occasionally been violated.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19 in Minsk, which outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point document in particular stipulates a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

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