Medvedev: Moscow not in­ter­ested in stand­off with Kiev

China Daily - - WORLD - Xin­hua, Reuters and AP con­trib­uted to this story.

Rus­sia is not in­ter­ested in in­def­i­nitely main­tain­ing re­cip­ro­cal sanc­tions with Ukraine, Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev said on Thurs­day, as Ukraine urged a gath­er­ing of dozens of for­eign min­is­ters to in­crease sanc­tions against Moscow.

“We do not want any sanc­tions con­fronta­tions, but it was not us who started this sanc­tions story,” Medvedev said in an in­ter­view with Rus­sian tele­vi­sion chan­nels.

“But if their re­stric­tions re­main, we will nat­u­rally keep our lim­i­ta­tions,” he added.

Medvedev said Rus­sia im­posed sanc­tions not against the Ukrainian peo­ple or the Ukrainian econ­omy, but against “those who have com­pro­mised them­selves and those who harm our coun­try”.

Ukraine has im­posed a series of eco­nomic sanc­tions on Rus­sian banks, en­ter­prises and in­di­vid­u­als.

Re­la­tions be­tween Rus­sia and Ukraine have been de­te­ri­o­rat­ing since Crimea was in­cor­po­rated into Rus­sia in March 2014 fol­low­ing a lo­cal ref­er­en­dum.

Medvedev signed a de­cree on Nov 1 im­pos­ing sanc­tions on 68 Ukrainian en­ter­prises and 322 in­di­vid­u­als.

Ac­cord­ing to him, even af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of the counter-sanc­tions, Rus­sia re­mains Ukraine’s largest trad­ing part­ner, ac­count­ing for 15 per­cent of its to­tal ex­ports and 9 per­cent of im­ports.

On Nov 25, three Ukrainian ships at­tempt­ing to sail through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov were seized by Rus­sian forces for al­legedly vi­o­lat­ing the Rus­sian bor­der.

The Ukrainian Navy said that it had in­formed Rus­sia in ad­vance of the pas­sage, while Rus­sia said it had re­ceived no such re­port and the ships ig­nored mul­ti­ple warn­ings from Rus­sian bor­der guards.

Also on Thurs­day, the US mil­i­tary said it car­ried out an “ex­tra­or­di­nary” flight over Ukraine un­der the Open Skies Treaty to reaf­firm its com­mit­ment to the coun­try.

“Rus­sia’s un­pro­voked at­tack on Ukrainian naval ves­sels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait is a dan­ger­ous es­ca­la­tion in a pat­tern of in­creas­ingly provoca­tive and threat­en­ing ac­tiv­ity,” the Pen­tagon said in a state­ment.

Mean­while, the Ukrainian par­lia­ment ap­proved a bill on end­ing the Treaty on Friend­ship, Co­op­er­a­tion and Part­ner­ship be­tween Ukraine and Rus­sia on April 1, the par­lia­ment said.

Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties have yet to com­ment on this de­vel­op­ment.

In Septem­ber, Ukra­nian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko signed a de­cree to en­force a de­ci­sion of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity and De­fense Coun­cil to ter­mi­nate the treaty with Rus­sia signed in 1997.

Un­der the treaty, Kiev and Moscow pledged to re­spect each other’s bor­ders and peace­fully set­tle dis­putes.

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