MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. The West does not conceal that its sanctions against Russia are designed to inflict unacceptable harm on the Russian economy and set the people against authorities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Kommersant business daily.
“Regarding the political component of these sanctions, I will say that up until now, when measures of coercive nature were taken, first of all through the UN Security Council, because all the rest is illegitimate, our Western partners were in the first ranks of those who called to direct sanctions specifically to the heads of states not complying with UN decisions and do everything possible to avoid any negative side effect on the population,” Lavrov said.
“In the case with Russia, a diametrically opposite logic was chosen,” he said.
“It is said in public that the sanctions aim to inflict unacceptable harm upon the Russian economy so that the nation could feel how bad it lives under this regime”, Lavrov said.
“Absolute political bias is evident here, and it is impossible to hide it. I think all our citizens realize what period we are living in and what goals are set before themselves by those who speak for increasing pressure on the Russian Federation,” the minister said.
The top Russian diplomat said “pretexts for increasing this pressure are chosen in a very dirty manner.”
He recalled that in July, sectoral sanctions were imposed on Russia “amid hysteria stirred up after the crash of the Malaysian Boeing.”
“Then, without any trial or investigation or attempts to arrive at the site of the crash, collect wreckage, militiamen were declared guilty although they unquestionably gave Dutch experts the black boxes they found fully intact. Naturally, Russia was accused,” Lavrov lamented.
“It is dishonest and dirty to use the tragedy to achieve your geopolitical goal,” he stressed.
“Let’s not forget that many European countries were very much reserved regarding even the first wave of sanctions. But no one keeps it secret that it is the Americans who made the entire European Union subdue to their demands, which was directly without embarrassment voiced by [US vice president] Joseph Biden, who spoke a few months ago at one of American universities,” the Russian minister said.
Lavrov recalled that the September package of sanctions was adopted a few days after the signing of the Minsk agreements.
“Now these agreements are treated nearly like catechesis - everyone calls for their implementation. We will absolutely firmly push for that,” he said.
“But I will repeat that the September wave of sanctions was introduced 'in reward' for Russia’s role in coordinating the Minsk agreements and in general in organizing the Minsk meeting that in many respects took place thanks to the role of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said.
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March after a coup rocked Ukraine in February.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.
In response, Russia 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.
New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September.
Russia has constantly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.
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 and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s southeast.
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.
Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.
A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities.