MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will do everything possible to protect its legitimate interests and national security if the West decides on new sanctions, but prefers to stay away from the “road of escalation”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“It is not at all our choice, but there should be no doubt that we will do whatever is necessary to protect our legitimate interests, including the interests of national security in all its dimensions. That was the basis of our decision to restrict, for the duration of one year, on import of agricultural and food products from several states which had adopted sectoral economic sanctions against Russia,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines, which will be published in The Daily Telegraph.
“We hope that the US, the European Union and others heed to the voice of reason and put an end to this meaningless tit-for-tat vicious circle which they themselves started,” Russia’s top diplomat added.
In the interview he reiterated that it was meaningless and “absolutely unacceptable” to use the sanctions policy against Russia or any other country, saying such measures “threaten international peace and stability” and run counter to norms and principles of international law.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to talk to Russia – and to anyone, for that matter - in the language of ultimatums and coercive measures. Our response to unilateral steps by the United States, EU and some other countries has been balanced and in line with the rights and obligations of Russia under international treaties, including WTO,” the foreign minister stressed.
Back in March, in response to Crimea’s reunification with Russia the United States and the European Union introduced the first package of targeted sanctions against a number of Russian high-ranking officials. As the Ukrainian crisis escalated, the United States pressed for its Western allies to follow its lead. Norway, Canada, Australia and Japan also caved in to the US sanctions push and drew up their own blacklists.
The latest round of sanctions, imposed by the United States and EU member-states, was largely economic and has significantly complicated access to European capital markets for a number of Russian banks.