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Old 12-21-2014, 02:08 AM
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Default Russia Denounces New Round of Western Sanctions

Of course these sanctions haven't done a thing. It's all oil prices.


MOSCOW — Russia on Saturday derided the United States and Canada for imposing yet another round of economic sanctions over the Kremlin’s policies in Ukraine, and pointed at President Obama’s recent decision to normalize relations with Cuba as proof that sanctions were ultimately pointless.

“It took a half-century for the White House to recognize the political futility of the sanctions blockade against Cuba,” a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Aleksandr K. Lukashevich, said in a statement that was variously scornful and scolding. “Well, we will wait.”

Russia also accused the United States and Canada of refusing to accept the will of the people of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March, and in a separate statement on Saturday, the Foreign Ministry denounced the United States and Europe for new sanctions aimed at blocking foreign investment in Crimea and cutting off tourism, one of the peninsula’s major industries.

Calling those measures “collective punishment,” the Foreign Ministry said they amounted to an acknowledgment that the decision to secede from Ukraine was “unanimous and voluntary.”

Russian anger over Western sanctions has intensified in recent days as the country’s economy has gone into a tailspin. A sharp decline in oil prices, combined with pressure from sanctions and an erratic response in recent months by the Russian Central Bank led to a precipitous decline in the ruble.

More drastic government intervention to prop up the currency was required after an extraordinary middle-of-the-night rate increase on Monday failed to stem the ruble’s fall. President Vladimir V. Putin has tried to reassure Russians that the economic pain is temporary, nonetheless consumers have flooded into stores to turn their rubles into hardgoods, fearing a further currency meltdown.

Separately, the Kremlin on Saturday released the text of a congratulatory message from Mr. Putin to employees and veterans of Russia’s security services to mark a holiday celebrating their service to the country.

In the message, Mr. Putin noted that emerging threats required constant modernization of the security apparatus.

“New destabilizing factors require greater efficiency of the entire national security system,” Mr. Putin wrote, adding that the chief responsibilities were “strong and resolute resistance to international terrorism and extremism, to any attempts by foreign special services to deal a blow to Russia, to its political and economic interests.”

The latest sanctions include an order by the Obama administration prohibiting American companies from doing business in Crimea, including a ban on imports and exports, real estate purchases and the financing of businesses there. The European Union, meanwhile, banned travel businesses from operating in Crimea, a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful beaches along the Black Sea.

The dual statements by Russia criticizing the West were issued on Saturday as a disagreement persisted over resuming negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine. International mediators have been eager to restart talks, which were initially held in September in Minsk, Belarus, but met with minimal success.

A cease-fire agreement signed then mostly has not held, though the Ukrainian military and rebel leaders have sought to suppress the fighting, including observing a day of silence earlier this month.

Participants in the talks, including Ukraine, Russia and separatist leaders from eastern Ukraine, have been unable to agree on a date and location to meet.

Meanwhile, Russia has announced that it will send yet another convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the war zone on Sunday, highlighting Ukraine’s continuing lack of control over its eastern border. Russia has insisted that all of its previous convoys carried only humanitarian aid, but the porous border has also clearly allowed a flow of fighters and weapons to reinforce separatist rebels in the east.

Russia’s statements on Saturday veered from scolding the West for imposing sanctions that it said history had demonstrated would fail, to boasting about the ability of the Russian people to persevere against adversaries.

“For those who still are under the illusion that everyone in the world should live as specified by Washington and Ottawa,” Mr. Lukashevich, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, “Remember: Crimea is a primordial and integral part of Russia. The residents of the Crimea are now together with all the Russian people, who never buckled or caved in to external pressure.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/wo...ions.html?_r=0
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