“Ukraine must be a neutral buffer state not making part of NATO or the European Union,” Lorenz Haag told ITAR-TASS.
“Unlike for Washington and Brussels, Ukraine has tremendous strategic importance for Russia,” he said. “It would be risky for anyone in the world to drive Moscow into isolation and step up military support for Ukraine,” he continued. “We have common challenges that can be confronted only in joint effort,” Lorenz Haag said, adding that Moscow assistance “will be need in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran”.
“It is common practice in the West nowadays to blame Russia for what is going on,” he noted. “But one can hardly deny the blame of the US and the European Union, as their attempts to tear Ukraine from the strategic orbit of Russia could not but have generated major problems,” the professor said.
“If the West decides to tighten sanctions against Russia, to diplomatically isolate it and step up military support for Ukraine, tensions may only grow,” he added.
The United States imposed a fourth package of sanctions against Russia last Tuesday over its Ukraine policy. The US Department of the Treasury said the sanctions would apply to Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation, VTB Bank, Russian Agricultural Bank and Bank of Moscow.
During the first two rounds of US sanctions against Russia over its stance on Ukraine, Visa and MasterCard blocked card operations by Russia’s SMP-Bank, Rossiya Bank, Sobinbank and InvestCapitalBank blacklisted by the US administration.
EU sectoral sanctions on Russia also came into force on Friday. In particular, they affected five Russian banks - Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Russian Agricultural Bank and VEB. European residents are now prohibited from giving the banks medium-and long-term lending. The banks’ foreign subsidiaries registered in the EU are exempt from sanctions.
The package also includes a ban on export of dual-purpose goods and technologies to Russia, except space technologies not linked to military developments.