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MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is being used by the United States to exert pressure on Russia and sow discord within the two former Soviet republics, Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper house, said on Wednesday.
"Crisis in Ukraine is only a pretext to exert pressure on Russia, to weaken it economically, to tear Ukraine away from Russia at any cost, even at the cost of thousands of victims and murders, and to encompass Ukraine into the sphere of its [American] interests," the Federation Council leader said.
Matviyenko’s words come in the wake of an early Wednesday statement from the White House that US President Barack Obama ruled to extend for another year certain sanctions against Russia regarding Moscow’s stance on the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine.
Sanctions are targeting a whole range of Russian citizens, including officials and Ukrainian government members during former President Viktor Yanukovych's rule. Measures also hit a number of prominent Russian businessmen, companies and leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics (DPR and LPR).
Decisions of the US leadership proved again that Washington had no interest in winning peace for war-torn Ukraine, Matviyenko said, adding "We have repeatedly seen it for ourselves."
Relations between Russia and the United States have been strained by developments in Ukraine as Washington accused Russia of direct involvement in armed conflict in the neighbouring state and imposed sanctions on Moscow. The European Union joined Washington’s policy towards Russia and imposed its own sanctions.
The West started imposing sanctions on Russia from March 2014 in the wake of dramatic events evolving in Ukraine at that time. First, an extraordinary EU summit stalled talks on a visa-free regime and a new base agreement on Russia-EU cooperation. Further on, sanctions were grouped into three categories - personal, corporate and sectoral.
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.
Russia in response fully banned from August 2014 imports of meat, fish, cheese, milk, vegetables and fruits from western countries that had imposed economic sanctions against Russian citizens and companies.
Sanctions against Russia have been imposed by European Union member states, Norway, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.