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US sanctions have elements of unscrupulous competition - Russian Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW, July 30, /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow sees clear elements of unscrupulous trade and economic competition in US sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

“We have repeatedly said that anti-Russian sanctions being adopted by the US are unsubstantiated and illegitimate,” the ministry’s statement also said.

“Such decisions by Washington will only further complicate Russian-American relations and create an extremely unfavorable atmosphere in international affairs, where interaction between our countries often plays a decisive role,” it said.

The US administration, “while strenuously trying to make its current behavior look consistent, is actually trying to escape responsibility for the tragic development of events in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

“Not Russia, but the Kiev regime and its overseas patrons are to blame for the growing number of victims among the civilian population in [Ukraine’s] eastern regions,” it said.

Troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.

During the military operation, conducted since mid-April, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and over 1,300 wounded in it. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s war-torn Southeast.

“In its pretentious, prosecutor-like manner, the White House, which is covering the bloody operation by the Kiev military, which, contrary to all international norms, came to delivering missile strikes on peaceful cities, keeps lodging ungrounded claims against us,” the statement said.

US presidential spokesman Josh Earnest claimed at a press briefing on July 25 that “there were heavy weapons moved from Russia to Ukraine… into the hands of separatist leaders, and that those separatists who are backed by the Russians were trained by the Russians to use those systems.”

The US calls militiamen in Ukraine’s Southeast fighting for the rights of the local population “separatists”.

“There is an impression that American sanctions pressure that moved onto the sectoral level pursues the only aim - to get even with us for our independent policy which is inconvenient for the United States,” it said.

“Real losses from Washington’s destructive and short-sighted policy will be strongly felt by the United States,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The United States imposed a fourth package of sanctions against Russia on 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.

Like the third package of sanctions against Vnesheconombank and Gazprombank, the fresh sanctions bar VTB Bank, Russian Agricultural Bank and Bank of Moscow from raising medium-term and long-term funds in the United States.

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.

Western nations subjected some Russian officials and companies to targeted sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, following Crimea’s incorporation by Russia in mid-March.

Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

The West, led by the United States, has threatened Russia with further punitive measures, including economic ones, for incorporation of Crimea and what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in mass protests in Ukraine’s Southeast.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in protests in the Southeast of Ukraine, which started after Crimea refused to recognize the authorities propelled to power during a coup in Ukraine in February and reunified with Russia in mid-March after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.

Moscow has rejected the threats of broader sanctions saying the language of penalties is counterproductive and will strike back at Western countries.