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Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
Russia has pledged to retaliate against any
sanctions imposed on it by the EU and US, further raising tensions in
what has quickly become worst diplomatic crisis between Russia and the
west since the end of the Cold War.
Russia on Friday accused the European Union of taking an "extremely
unconstructive position” by freezing talks on easing visa barriers and
suspending trade in response to the country's intervention in Ukraine.
will not accept the language of sanctions and threats” and will
retaliate if sanctions are imposed, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in
Russia now has 30,000 troops in Ukraine's Crimea
region, Ukrainian border guards said on Friday, nearly twice the
previous figure given by the government in Kiev.
In a coordinated effort, US President Barack Obama on Thursday night
ordered sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian peoples involved in Moscow's
military intervention in Crimea, including travel bans and freezing of
their US assets.
Both the US and EU said sanctions will be furthered if Russia does not withdraw its forces back to their base in Crimea.
In an hour long phone call with Barack Obama shortly after the US
President announced the punitive measures, Mr Putin brushed western
threats aside, defending Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as consistent
with international law.
A statement published on the Kremlin
website early on Friday said that during the call, Mr Putin condemned
the newly formed Kiev government as the result of an
"anti-constitutional coup” and said Russia was " unable to ignore”
requests for protection from Ukraine's Russia-leaning east and south.
the phone call, Mr Obama said the situation could be solved
diplomatically in a way that addressed the interests of Russia, Ukraine
and the international community, according to the White House.
Ukraine's interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the Crimean
parliament that "no-one in the civilised world” will recognise its
region wide referendum on joining the Russian Federation.
meeting with the head of the Crimean parliament earlier on Friday
however, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament said Crimea
would be welcomed as an equal part of Russia if the region votes to
Earlier this week MPs in the autonomous Crimea
region abruptly voted to join the Russian Federation and announced a
March 16 region wide referendum in order to strengthen their position.
The US and EU have claimed such referendum would be against the Ukrainian constitution and in violation of international law.
Putin said earlier this week that Russia had no intention of annexing
Crimea, but insisted its population has the right to determine the
region's status in the referendum.
Wading into the debate, China,
which often stands with Russia on many global issues, said on Friday
that sanctions are not the best way to resolve the crisis.
officials said a list of people targeted by the sanctions had not yet
been drawn up but added that the Russian President would not be one of
The order targets any assets held in the US by "individuals
and entities” responsible for the Russian military intervention in
Ukraine, threatening its territorial integrity or seeking to assert
governmental authority over any part of Ukraine, without authorisation
from the government in Kiev.
Mr Obama, appearing in the White
House press room hours after signing the order, said the US sanctions
were meant to impose costs on Russia for its actions.
Foreign Ministry meanwhile has branded NATO's decision to curb its
corporation with Russia as a "biased and prejudiced approach”.
"We see as extremely dangerous attempts to bring in the 'NATO factor' to
Ukraine, where the situation is complex and delicate as it is, as it
creates additional tension and undermines the prospects for settling the
situation,” the ministry said in a statement.