MOSCOW (AFP) – The latest round of Ukraine-related sanctions by the United States and Canada hamper efforts to resolve the conflict, Russia’s foreign ministry said Saturday.
“The sanctions are directed to disrupt the political process,” the ministry said in a statement following the announcement of the latest measures on Friday.
“We advise Washington and Ottawa to think about the consequences of such actions,” it said, adding: “We will start to develop counter-measures.”
US President Barack Obama issued an executive order prohibiting trade with Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in March.
Additionally 24 individuals and entities were added to the US Treasury blacklist – people from Crimea and separatist leaders involved in fighting in eastern Ukraine as well as several Russians supporting the insurgency.
Canada meanwhile slapped fresh measures on Russia’s oil and gas sector and issued travel bans on several politicians in Russia and the separatist regions.
“Crimea is the original and inseparable part of Russia. Residents of Crimea today are together with the Russian people, who never have and never will bend under external pressure,” the Russian foreign ministry statement said.
Instead of helping resolve the conflict, the sanctions “support Kiev’s ‘party of war’,” it said, referring to Ukrainian officials who oppose negotiating with separatists.
Kiev is now preparing for a new round of talks with representatives of the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk, the latest effort to put an end to fighting that has killed over 4,700 people since April.
Crimea’s new leaders dismissed the US sanctions, saying the peninsula will now seek investors from Asia.
“If the West doesn’t want to work with us, we’ll work with the East,” deputy chairman of Crimea’s council of ministers Dmitry Polonsky told AFP.
“Nothing scary is going to happen,” he said. “There won’t be any serious consequences, we’ll just change our partners.”
The newest additions to the US blacklist are commanders and ministers in the separatist east, most of them Ukrainian nationals.
It also includes Crimea’s prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya whose looks and stern demeanour became a web sensation and inspired Japanese manga-style comics earlier this year.