World Economy

Moscow Says New US Sanctions is Blackmail

Moscow Says New US Sanctions is BlackmailMoscow Says New US Sanctions is Blackmail

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary has called fresh threats of anti-Russian sanctions “an absolutely destructive and unjustified course that would eventually prove to be shortsighted.”

“Russia has never agreed to such threats and moreover, the threats and blackmail have never led and never would lead to the change of Russia’s well-known and logical position,” RT quoted Dmitry Peskov as telling reporters on Monday.

The comment came soon after US President Barack Obama promised the United States would examine options to “ratchet up the pressure on Russia” on the Ukraine issue.

“Instead of stepping up the pressure on those who refuse to start a dialogue and to solve the conflict in a peaceful way, we hear they want to resume this economic blackmail against Russia,” Peskov noted in his statement.

Earlier, the Russian president’s press secretary said in an interview that western diplomacy was exercising “a substitution of concepts, which is leading to an escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.”

“In the meantime, to put it simply, the West is trying to play Putin off as a party to the conflict, to isolate him in international politics, to strangle Russia economically in their own interests, to get him overthrown, while demanding that he resolves the crisis in the neighboring country,” he stated.

In the same interview, the official pointed out Russia was doing everything possible to end the Ukrainian crisis: helping Ukraine’s economy, ensuring the supply of coal and electricity, and sending humanitarian convoys to people in need in the southeast.

  Europe Reluctant

Some European leaders have recently talked of easing economic sanctions against Moscow. But Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who now serves as European Union president, tweeted in a message, “Once again, appeasement encourages the aggressor to greater acts of violence. Time to step up our policy based on cold facts, not illusions.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday nobody was blindly set on imposing further sanctions on Moscow over its stance in eastern Ukraine, ahead of a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday.

But he added that an offensive by pro-Russian separatists against the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol would constitute a significant change in the situation, to which Europe would have to react.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski also called on the European Union on Monday to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Russia over an escalation of hostilities in Ukraine.

“The response of the Western world should be very firm,” Komorowski told a news conference. “In my opinion the EU response should be to deliberately raise the issue of toughening sanctions against Russia.”

 ‘Brink of War’

Russia’s elites have been feeling the bite of US sanctions coupled with near halving of the price per barrel of oil. As the West starts to look at Russia more as a gigantic criminal enterprise rather than as a nation-state, everyone is becoming more comfortable with reducing economic ties to them.

The head of a leading Kremlin-owned bank warned on Friday that further banking sanctions would lead Russia and the U.S. to the “brink of war.”

Andrei Kostin, the head of VTB, reacted angrily when asked what the consequences would be if Russia were excluded from the Swift banking system, a secure means of moving money across borders.

If it were to happen, Kostin told a session on the Russian economy at the World Economic Forum in Davos, “ambassadors can leave capitals. It means Russia and America might have no relationship after that.”

“If there is no banking relationship, it means the countries are on the verge of war, or definitely in the cold war,” he said in English, growing increasingly red in the face. “It will be a very dangerous situation.”

He said that if Russia were excluded from the Swift system, it would make the US-Russia relationship akin to the US-Iran one. He made the comments after noting that Russia had recently created its own alternative to Swift.