Russia slams US sanctions, says counter-measures 'won't take long'

Building of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Moscow's Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square (RIA Novosti / Maksim Blinov)

The Foreign Ministry accused the US of adopting a confrontational course toward Russia.

It’s the US that is banking on the escalation of Ukraine’s internal conflict and pressing Russia with sanctions,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that this comes after a ceasefire has been reached in eastern Ukraine at huge effort and there is a hope for a dialogue between the rebel forces and Kiev.

"Of course our retaliatory measures will not keep you waiting, but this is a forced measure," the online statement said.

It should seem that in the White House they must have got on point long ago that sanctions-juggling will never make us change our position, which is a matter of principle,” the Foreign Ministry said. “We won’t act in order to please the geopolitical ambitions of the United States or intentions of those overseas politicians who press for using ‘orchestrated Ukraine’ to control Russia.”

The ministry also said that “those in Washington who shortsightedly continue to feed the sanctions machine” were also putting national security at risk, as Russia plays a key role in fighting global terrorism and drug trafficking. The door for “a constructive and honest bilateral cooperation” remains open – “if the White House is ready for it,” the FM concluded.

On Friday, the US extended the reach of its sanctions against Russia. Those hit the country’s biggest lenders – Sberbank, Gazprombank and Rosselkhozbank – as well as several state-owned technology firms and energy companies.

Oil and gas sector companies were also targeted with new limitations imposed on exploration technology for Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegaz, and Rosneft.

The US also said it would prohibit “transactions in, provision of financing for, or other dealings in new debt of greater than 90 days maturity issued by two additional Russian energy companies, Gazprom Neft and Transneft.”

On the same day, the EU imposed its new round of sanctions on Russia. The EU restricted Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft from raising long-term debt on European capital markets, as well as placing services required for oil and gas extraction in the Arctic on the list and restricting ‘dual use’ military technology exports to Russian companies.

Additionally, Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Rosselkhozbank (Russian Agricultural Bank) – have been banned from receiving any long-term (over 30-day) loans from EU companies.

Putin responded to the EU's move saying that Russia has not ruled out responding with tit-for-tat sanctions. However, measures would only be implemented if they did not harm Russia, and if they would help protect the country, he said.

The new EU sanctions could be appealed in the World Trade Organization. Economic Development Minister Aleksey Ulyukayev told reporters in Brussels on Friday: “I believe that even the previous round of sanctions was the reason enough to appeal with the WTO. And we will certainly do it.