Rus­sia doubts US ‘grip on reality’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rus­sia’s for­eign min­istry yes­ter­day lashed out at the US for slap­ping sanc­tions on Syr­ian min­is­ters and a Rus­sian bank, say­ing Wash­ing­ton had “com­pletely lost its grip on reality”. The United States on Fri­day added sev­eral se­nior Syr­ian of­fi­cials in­clud­ing the min­is­ters of oil and of fi­nance and the lead­er­ship of a Rus­sian bank to its sanc­tions black­list.

“This wi­den­ing of Amer­i­can sanc­tions against Rus­sia ... at a time when the bloody at­tacks in Ankara and Ber­lin should bring rea­son­able peo­ple to­gether to fight the ter­ror­ist threat shows that Wash­ing­ton has com­pletely lost its grip on reality,” the min­istry said in a state­ment. The US was try­ing to “‘pun­ish’ us for our sup­port to the Syr­ian govern­ment in the fight against ter­ror­ism which is a threat not only to that coun­try but to the whole world”, it said.

Wash­ing­ton’s “de­sire for regime change in Syria is so strong that it is ready to help any de­struc­tive force”, the min­istry said. “We will not give in to sanc­tions,” it said, adding that tar­geted Rus­sian com­pa­nies were “func­tion­ing nor­mally”. Syria has been locked in war for more than five years, leav­ing more than 310,000 peo­ple dead and mil­lions more dis­placed.

The con­flict be­gan as a pro-democ­racy re­volt but later mor­phed into an all-out civil war af­ter Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad’s troops un­leashed a bru­tal crack­down against dissent. It has since be­come a com­plex, multi-front con­flict, drawing in global pow­ers as well as mili­tias and ji­hadists. While Western pow­ers and some re­gional states have backed the re­bel­lion, Rus­sia and Iran have thrown their full weight be­hind As­sad’s regime.

Bru­tal war

In an­nounc­ing the black­list ad­di­tions, Wash­ing­ton also im­posed sanc­tions on Syr­ian air­line Cham Wings, ac­cused of trans­port­ing for­eign mili­ti­a­men to fight in the coun­try’s bru­tal civil war. US of­fi­cials also tar­geted two com­pa­nies al­legedly owned or op­er­ated by a As­sad’s cousin Rami Makhluf, which they said had han­dled oil drilled in ar­eas con­trolled by the Is­lamic State group.

The east of Syria has fallen to IS and, while the regime and its al­lies have fought the ex­trem­ists, of­fi­cials have been ac­cused of trad­ing oil from jihadist-held ter­ri­tory. The fresh sanc­tions came as the govern­ment re­cap­tured the rebel-held east of Aleppo, the coun­try’s sec­ond city, af­ter a fierce month-long of­fen­sive that saw thou­sands of civil­ians and rebels evac­u­ated in re­cent days.

“The daily at­tacks on civil­ian cen­ters by the govern­ment of Syria led by Bashar AlAs­sad are rep­re­hen­si­ble, and both the Govern­ment and its en­ablers must be iso­lated and held ac­count­able for their bar­barism,” said Adam Szu­bin, act­ing un­der sec­re­tary for ter­ror­ism and fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence. On Tues­day, the US Trea­sury had al­ready an­nounced new sanc­tions against Rus­sia for its role in the Ukraine con­flict, tar­get­ing Rus­sian busi­ness­men, bankers and trans­port com­pa­nies. — AFP

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