Opponents of the military coup have organised mass protests across Egypt condemning the deterioration of living conditions, price hikes and the ongoing electricity crisis. They are also calling for the prosecution of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for “crimes against humanity”.
The protests came in response to a call by the Anti-Coup Alliance, which called for a “new revolutionary week” starting Friday under the slogan, “The oath of the revolution and the vow of the martyr”.
In the affluent Maadi neighborhood in Cairo, protesters denounced lifting subsidies and the increase in fuel prices. They also chanted for the release of all political prisoners and putting an end to torture in prisons.
In Hilwan, the alliance organised a morning protest against military rule and worsening living conditions. They vowed to continue protests until the leader of the coup is prosecuted.
In Baltim town in Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate, protesters condemned politicised trials and price hikes. In Desouk, protesters waved pictures of Mohamed Morsi and Rabaa signs and chanted against the deteriorating living conditions and poor services, especially electricity.
The Ukrainian conflict was just a trigger for the sanctions, which demonstrated the failure of all previous efforts to set up healthy relations between Russia and the West, Russian tycoon and head of Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, told RT in Sochi.
“I think the sanctions have nothing to do with Ukraine. Ukraine was just a reason. [The sanctions] were a failure of any attempt which was taken in the past to build normal relations between Europe and Russia – from both sides,” Deripaska told RT at the Investment Forum in Sochi.
Oleg Deripaska said the West started pressing Russia before the first sanctions were imposed – just ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
“We should give a lot of credit to Sochi, [as it showed] a different world, [despite] whatever appeared in the Western press,” he said.
Asked if people across the globe are more anti-Russia than ever, Deripaska answered that “it’s not people, it’s [about] various lobbying groups and various interests.”
“You remember all the complaints before the Olympics. They’ve been intentionally stopping any efforts from the Russian side to be normal, to look normal in the West. My view is we should go down as deep as possible, as quick as possible, and then touch the bottom and go up, and think what’s actually common between us, if there is any chance to have this Portugal-Vladivostok trade zone and opportunities to live together.”
Raúl Castro, President of Cuba, said that he wants to start relations with the U.S., but first the U.S. must provide health insurance to all 46 million people who lack it; stop extrajudicial assassinations in sovereign countries through drone attacks; make higher education affordable for all; reform the prison system which has by far the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, with a drastically disproportionate amount of prisoners being minorities; grant Puerto Rico its sovereignty as required by the U.N. Charter, U.N. Declaration on Decolonization, and the popular referendum in Puerto Rico in 2012; halt the economic blockade, which has been ruled illegal for 22 straight years in the U.N.; close the detention facility and return the land to Cuba; turn over terrorists living freely in Miami who have bombed Cuban civilian airplanes, hotels and fishing boats; and free the three political prisoners who were investigating these groups to prevent further attacks.
Actually, he said: “We don’t demand that the U.S. change its political or social system and we don’t accept negotiations over ours. If we really want to move our bilateral relations forward, we’ll have to learn to respect our differences, if not, we’re ready to take another 55 years in the same situation.”
President Barack Obama has said Cuba: ”Has not yet observed basic human rights … I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions.” But he added: “We haven’t gotten there yet.”
Presumably Obama means when Cuba agrees to relinquish their right to self-determination, as guaranteed in the U.N. Charter, to join the U.S.-imposed neoliberal order. When Cuba agrees to gives up state control over industries like banking and telecommunications and opens them up to foreign investment, so more money can be shipped off the island instead of staying in the local economy and invested in the Cuban people. When Cuba agrees to “free trade” agreements, which would prevent labor and environmental safeguards while forcing local businesses to compete on an uneven playing field with multinational corporations that receive government subsidies, allowing them to undercut the price of local products. In short, when Cuba decides to respect private profit over the social welfare of its population.
U.S. calls for “democracy” and “human rights” in Cuba have an important historical connotation, which in reality has nothing to do with representative government nor human rights. The term is nothing more than a propaganda tool, instantly elevating the accuser to a superior moral status and subjecting the accused to an indefensible position regardless of the real facts, history and context.
The U.S. is not suggesting that Cuba should be judged by established human rights and international humanitarian laws — The Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which the U.S. has never ratified); and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which the U.S. took more than 20 years to ratify); the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the U.S. has never ratified; and many others. It is suggesting Cuba abide by the criteria the U.S. sets out for them and sees fit to interpret itself.
The reality is that the United States does not get to serve as judge and jury for other countries’ internal affairs, just as they would laugh in the face of anyone who tried to do the same to them. To pretend that your demands are more important than the law that governs the international system is beyond condescending.
Incidentally, there is a United Nations Committee that impartially reviews compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the few treaties which the U.S. has both signed and ratified. The committee, in its most recent annual report, found the U.S. non-compliant in many areas.
To start, they found that the U.S. “has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification,” which serves to “limit the legal reach and practical relevance of the Covenant.”
Among the many matters of concern is accountability for “unlawful killings during its international operations, the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in United States custody.”
The committee also noted numerous domestic problems, including “racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” “racial profiling,” “excessive use of force by law enforcement officials,” “criminalization of homelessness,” “National Security Agency surveillance,” and even “voting rights.”
Obama’s sanctimonious remarks about Cuba demonstrate his disregard for the law that applies to both countries equally, and his unwillingness to be held to the same standard that he preaches to others.
Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy, and Latin America. You can follow him on twitter.
The Japanese government has pushed back imposing new sanctions on Russia, which it planned to impose on Friday, in expectation of a possible meeting of foreign ministers next week.
The Japanese media reported Thursday of Tokyo’s intention to issue additional sanctions against Russia. The move was discussed on Tuesday at a National Security Council meeting and was expected to be announced on Friday, but according to The Japan Times the government is yet to make a final decision.
The implementation could be postponed until at least next week, when Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida may meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. Tokyo wants to give Moscow more time to respond to the reports of the looming sanctions, the newspaper said.
Japan imposed sanctions on Russia in March as a gesture of solidarity with the US and the EU, which are championing a policy of punishing Russia for its stance on the crisis in Ukraine. Tokyo suspended talks with Moscow over visa restrictions, investment, space cooperation and military tension prevention. It also targeted 40 individuals from Russia and Ukraine with asset freezes and travel bans.
The new round of sanctions was expected to be individual rather than sectorial.
Russia plans to sign a 30-year gas supply contract with China via the western route, Russian energy giant Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. The route to supply gas to China via western Siberia may be implemented faster than the eastern route, through which Moscow has agreed to ship the fuel to its Asian neighbor in May.
“Gazprom plans to sign a contract to supply China with 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas via western route over thirty years,” Miller said.
The China-Russia West Route natural gas pipeline project connects gas deposits in Western Siberia and the northwestern part of China via Russia’s Altai region, securing the world’s top energy user a major source of cleaner fuel.
The potential of this route is “enormous”, the Gazprom CEO told the Russian President.
“It is even greater than in Eastern Siberia and, without a doubt, we can increase the volume of gas supplies very quickly via the western route, depending on the growth in demand in the Chinese market,” said Miller.
Gazprom is to sign the 30-year contract with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in November. The deal will directly link Russia’s huge gas fields to Asia’s booming market for the first time.
Miller also said Gazprom might consider more than doubling the volume of supply.
“We plan to sign a contract for a volume of 30 billion cubic metres for 30 years, though the talks have also looked at other figures for new contracts concluded for the western route. We are looking at the possibilities for supplying 60 billion cubic metres or up to 100 billion cubic metres of gas to China,” Miller told Putin in Moscow.
China and Russia signed a $400-billion gas supply deal in May this year, opening up a new market for Moscow as it risks losing European customers over the Ukraine crisis.
The Russian part of the joint venture pipeline, officially dubbed “Power of Siberia”, will be built by Gazprom with a total investment of $55 billion.
Construction of the China- Russia East Route natural gas pipeline started this month in this eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk.
TBP and Agencies
President Vladimir Putin has said that sanctions against Russia directly violate World Trade Organization (WTO) principles, and that Russia will continue to defend its economy with protective measures.
The sanctions violate the main principles of equal access for all WTO members to economic activity and access to goods and services in the market, Putin said at a meeting with advisers in the Kremlin on Thursday.
“The limitations introduced against our country are nothing but a violation by some of our partners of the basic principles of the WTO,” the President said, adding that sanctions “undermine free enterprise competition.”
On September 12, the US and EU expanded sanctions against Russia aimed at hurting Russia’s main industry – oil. The US and EU have led sanctions against Russia, along with Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and others over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the Ukraine conflict.
The best way for Russia to counter these unfair advantages is to develop its domestic market, the President said.
“In response, we took protective measures, and I would like to stress that they are protective; they are not the result of our desire to punish any of our partners or influence their decision in any way.”
Russia introduced protective measures over food supplies on August 7 in response to Western sanctions. The Kremlin and White House sanctions tit-for-tat has been escalating since March, when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.
The food ban is due to only last a year, but at today’s meeting the President said that Russia needs to focus on increasing its market competitiveness over the next eighteen months to two years.
One of Russia’s main competitive advantages is its huge domestic market, and it should be filled with more Russian-made products, Putin said.
The President said that Russia’s decision to join the WTO in 2012 was a difficult transition for the country, but that it raised economic standards.
At the meeting President Putin laid out a list of economic priorities for the Russian state. At the top are developing the infrastructure, boosting lending, continuing to develop the agricultural and technology sectors, and increasing overall competition.
Russia joined the WTO in 2012 after nearly two decades of back and forth negotiations on the conditions for entry.
A top European court has struck down restrictions imposed by the European Union against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) on an alleged charge of circumventing US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
In a judgment on Thursday, the Luxembourg-based EU’s Court of Justice said it “annuls… the EU March 23, 2012 [ruling] concerning restrictive measures against Iran in so far as it listed Central Bank of Iran.”
“The reasons relied on are so vague and lacking in detail that the only possible response was in the form of a general denial,” the court ruled on Thursday, adding that “those reasons therefore do not comply with the requirements of the case-law.”
It said the charge leveled against the CBI is “insufficient in the sense that it does not enable either the applicant or the Court to understand the circumstances which led the [European] Council to consider…to adopt the contested act.”
The court also ordered the 28-nation European bloc to “bear one half of its own costs and to pay one half of the costs of Central Bank of Iran.”
At the beginning of 2012, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany reached an interim deal in the Swiss city of Geneva last November, according to which the six countries accepted to ease sanctions against Iran in return for the Islamic Republic limiting certain aspects of its nuclear activities. The deal came into effect on January 20 and expired on July 20. The two sides then agreed to extend the duration of the agreement until November 24.
The two sides are scheduled to resume talks on Friday to discuss removal of sanctions against Tehran.
On the third anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, an offshoot group announced that it has erased $3.8 million worth of private student loan debt.
The group, Strike Debt, said in a press release issued on Wednesday this week that its Rolling Jubilee initiative has purchased nearly $4 million in private student debt owed by former attendees of Everest College — an institution run by the massive for-profit education company Corinthian Colleges — in turn freeing those former students from a huge chunk of the burdensome loan bills.
“Jubilant Greetings!” the group wrote to 2,700 former Everest students. “We are writing to you with good news: We just got rid of some of your Everest College debt!”
“Everest College is committing widespread fraud,” the letter continues. “It targets lower-income students and students of color, offers low quality education and — with the help of the federal government — buries students under a lifetime of crushing debt, all to profit the one percent. No one should be forced to mortgage their future for an education.”
“You no longer owe the balance of this particular debt. It is gone, a gift with no strings attached. You are no longer under any obligation to settle this account with the original creditor, the bill collector or anyone else.”
This week’s announcement is only the latest from the non-profit organization to tout the results of a two-year-old initiative spawned from the Occupy movement that has previously erased more than $15 million in emergency room bills by purchasing debt from the companies tasked with collecting from debtors, then erasing it entirely using donated funds and never forcing the original debtor to pay them back.
“We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it,” Strike Debt explains Rolling Jubilee on the group’s website. “We cannot buy specific individuals’ debt — instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will and collective refusal. All proceeds go directly to buying and canceling people’s debt.”
“This isn’t just a stunt or a spectacle,” Rolling Jubilee member Astra Taylor told NBC News this week. “This isn’t a long-term plan, either. The point is to touch people where they are, and try to create a political awareness out of that.”
Now in the heels of successful other campaigns waged in the three years since the Occupy movement took hold in Lower Manhattan and spread across the United States, Strike Debt says former students of Everest College are the latest to luck out through the Rolling Jubilee initiative, and with reason: in this week’s statement, the group says that students at Everest were “conned” and that Everest and other Corinthian schools “are now being closed or sold off to other predatory companies, leaving students with no good options.”
“Despite Corinthian’s dire financial straits, checkered past, and history of lying to and misleading vulnerable students, tens of thousands of people may still be liable for the loans they have incurred while playing by the rules and trying to get an education,” one Strike Debt member told CNN.
In the US, student loan debt now totals roughly $1.2 trillion — surpassing the amount owed through credit card debt — with the average graduate owing $26,600, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
Ukraine and the EU parliaments simultaneously ratified the economic and political parts of the Association Agreement that will strengthen ties between Kiev and Brussels. Economic integration is postponed until the end of 2015.
The document was approved at 1:00pm in Kiev and there was a synchronous signing session in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Ukraine’s Rada voted 355 votes in favor out of 381 total, and the European Parliament supported the ratification with 535 ‘yes’ votes and 127 against, with 26 abstaining.
“From tomorrow I task the government with approving the implementation of the agreement and immediately implementing it into the force of law,” President Petro Poroshenko said at the ratification in Kiev. Poroshenko said he hopes the agreement will help Ukraine reform its economy and fight corruption, and that someday Ukraine hopes to apply for EU membership.
Ukraine “has embarked on the European path and nobody will are to shut the door to the EU membership for Ukraine,” the President said, as quoted by ITAR-ITASS.
Free trade with Europe’s $13 trillion economy will be postponed until January 2016, due to the weak state of Ukraine’s economy which would make it vulnerable to a sudden influx of European goods. Ukraine will continue duty-free trade with Russia and other CIS states until December 31, 2015, and on January 1, 2016 will begin economic integration with the EU.
Ukraine will still have the benefit of sending exports to Europe under a preferential trade code, but duty- free trade will not come into effect until 2016, protecting both Kiev and Moscow from economic risk.
In 2013, Ukraine exported goods worth $16 billion to Russia, nearly 25 percent of all total exports. In comparison, Ukraine exported $17 billion to Europe in the same 12-month period.
Since the political tension has intensified between the two, both have been cutting back on imports. In the first seven months of 2014, Russia reduced Ukrainian imports by 23.7 percent down to $6.7 billion, according to Russia’s Statistics Bureau. At the same time, Ukraine has been decreasing goods bought from Russia, which have fallen 20.7 percent to $9 billion. The lack of cooperative trade between the two has left a negative balance of trade of $2.3 billion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has estimated that nixing duty-free trade with Russia and switching over to the European system will cost Ukraine €165 billion over the next 10 years.
During trilateral talks in Brussels on Friday, Ukraine, Russia, and the EU agreed Ukraine’s integration into Europe’s trade orbit will begin on January 1, 2016.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the economic (the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, or DCFTA) part of the Association Agreement with the EU along with ex-Soviet nations Georgia and Moldova on June 27.
Ukraine signed the political part of the agreement on March 21, shortly after Crimea rejoined Russia.
The Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) will replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement Ukraine signed with the EU in 1998.
A senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group.
In a briefing to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybas-kova said some European countries have purchased crude from the ISIL.
She, however, refused to disclose any names despite pressure by some Parliament members to do so.
The EU official also warned against any support by the West for separatist Kurdish groups who, she said, would destabilize the Middle East.
Earlier reports accused Turkey of buying and transporting oil from both the ISIL and Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. According to the reports, Western intelligence agencies could track ISIL oil shipments as they moved across Iraq and Turkey.
ISIL reportedly controls eleven oil fields in northern Iraq as well as Syria’s Raqqa province.
US intelligence officials estimate that the Takfiri militants earn more than USD 3 million a day from oil profit, theft, human trafficking and ransom. They say the militants sell oil and other products via established networks in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Turkey has denied reports of involvement in ISIL’s oil smuggling operations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, met in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, on Thursday ahead of the 14th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The two allies discussed “pressing issues of bilateral cooperation, particularly in energy, aircraft engineering and infrastructure”, said a Kremlin statement.
It is the fourth meeting in 2014 between the two leaders.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said during Thursday’s meet that the leadership of the two nations will “jointly face external challenges”.
“I am ready to maintain further contacts with you to strengthen mutual support and expand openness between our countries, so that we could always draw from each other’s support, jointly face external challenges and achieve our grand development and revival goals,” said Xi.
Earlier last week, China put its weight solidly behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s seven-point peace plan for Ukraine, even as the EU prepared another wave of sanctions targeting Russia’s banking and energy sectors.
The Russian President on Thursday lauded the milestone deal signed earlier this year in May, the $400-billion gas supply deal between the two countries, securing the world’s top energy user a major source of cleaner fuel.
“This was done with the direct support of the President of China. Now we have practically begun its implementation, which, I am certain, will proceed in the same business-like manner and will be efficiently carried through by both parties – Russia and the People’s Republic of China,” said Putin on Thursday in Dushanbe.
The deal opened up a new market for Moscow as it risks losing European customers over the Ukraine crisis.
Putin’s “personal friendship” with the Chinese President is a political triumph for the Russian President even as Western leaders step up attempts to isolate Putin internationally over Russia’s alleged support to pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.
“We are making headway in other traditional areas of cooperation as well, including nuclear power, aircraft engineering, infrastructure and so forth,” Putin said on Thursday.
Xi said Beijing and Moscow have overseen new progress in the joint development of long-haul jumbo jets and heavy helicopters, as well as other major joint projects.
“Early this month you personally took part in the ceremony to launch the construction of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, which shows how seriously you take the expansion of Chinese-Russian energy cooperation,” Xi told Putin.
“We have set up an intergovernmental Chinese-Russian commission on investment cooperation. We are actively considering cooperation in the construction of high-speed railways. We have launched cooperation in satellite navigation systems, which you personally have given great attention to,” he added.
Xi and Putin had also held talks in July in Brazil during the 6th BRICS Summit.
Xi has held talks or met with Putin for nine times since he assumed the office of China’s President in March 2013, testifying to stronger and more assertive Sino-Russian relations.
In a major highlight of an investment meet on Tuesday, Moscow and Beijing have entered into a pact to boost use of the rouble and yuan for trade transactions.
During its maiden meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Russia-China Investment Cooperation Commission discussed 32 bilateral investment projects on Tuesday, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said.
Both Xi and Putin will now attend the 14th summit of the SCO slated for Thursday and Friday in the Tajik capital.
Barack Obama says he is joining the EU initiative to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia. Both Washington and Brussels say the sanctions will target finance, energy and defense sectors – yet can be revoked if the situation in Ukraine improves.
The US is to provide details of their sanctions on Friday.
“We will deepen and broaden sanctions in Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors. These measures will increase Russia’s political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President [Vladimir] Putin and those close to him,” US President Barack Obama said in a statement on Thursday.
The US says that Russia has sent heavily armed forces to Ukraine. Obama added that the US may withdraw sanctions if Russia fulfills obligations under the Minsk agreement.
“We are watching closely developments since the announcement of the ceasefire and agreement in Minsk, but we have yet to see conclusive evidence that Russia has ceased its efforts to destabilize Ukraine,” Obama said. “If Russia fully implements its commitments, these sanctions can be rolled back.”
While details officially remain unknown, a Reuters source has alleged that the US intends to sanction Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, and tighten restrictions on other Russian banks.
Previously, access to the US capital market was restricted for five Russian banks – VTB, Gazprombank, Bank of Moscow, Russian Agricultural Bank and Vnesheconombank (VEB). The Aug. 1 sanctions restricted Sberbank’s activity in the EU.
EU sanctions to take immediate effect on Friday
As for the European Union, the bloc will list their new limitations in the official journal Friday, which will mean they will come into effect immediately. Brussels will add 24 individuals to the list which blocks travel to the EU and asset freezes. Russian leaders and businessmen, as well as politicians in Crimea and the Donbass, will be added to the blacklist.
According to the official document, the EU will halt services Russia needs to extract oil and gas in the Arctic, deep sea, and shale extraction projects.
Three of Russia’s major energy companies and the country’s three largest defense entities will be restricted from raising long-term debt on European capital markets, Van Rompuy said.
Five major Russian state-owned banks will also be banned from any long-term (over 30-day) loans from EU companies.
Major Russian defense companies will be barred from debt refinancing, and the EU will also ban the export of any technology considered military “dual-use” to nine Russian companies.
Meanwhile, an EU source told RIA-Novosti news agency that the fresh European Union sanctions won’t affect the Russian gas sector.
“The energy sector affected by these sanctions is limited to the oil sector,” the source said.
On July 16, the US blacklisted several defense sector companies include Almaz-Antey Corporation, the Kalashnikov Concern and Instrument Design Bureau, as well as companies such as Izhmash, Basalt, and Uralvagonzavod.
If the EU follows the US lead on hitting Russian companies that also supply the Russian military, the above mentioned will be blocked from debt financing.
The European Commission has agreed to amend or suspend the sanctions in accordance with progress in Ukraine. A ceasefire was agreed by the Ukrainian government and rebels in the East on September 5.
“Thus, if the situation on the ground can be trusted, the European Commission and the EU Foreign Service will request to amend, suspend, or cancel sanctions, either in part or in full,” Van Rompuy said, as quoted by ITAR-ITASS.
Media sources suggest Gazprom Neft, Transneft, and Rosneft will all fall under Friday’s sanctions.
Gazprom Neft is the oil subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom.
Transneft is Russia’s state-owned oil pipeline company that exports all of Rosneft’s crude oil, and exports 56 percent of Russia’s total crude exports.
Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer was put on the US sanctions list on July 16 and later added to the EU list on July 29. In July, Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer, Novatek was also added to the blacklist which bans the export of hi-tech oil equipment needed in Arctic, deep sea, and shale extraction projects to Russia.
Russian respose to ‘de facto choice against peace’
Russia said it will respond to Western sanctions with equal strength, and last week Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that closing Russian airspace to European airlines was an option being considered.
President Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that new EU sanctions make no sense, as they are being introduced when Russia is making vigorous efforts to stop the bloodshed in southeastern Ukraine.
“The EU doesn’t see, or prefers not to see, the real state of events in [Ukraine’s] Donbass and doesn’t want to know about the efforts aimed at settling the conflict,” Peskov said.
“We regret the EU’s decision to impose new sanctions. We repeatedly expressed our disagreement and incomprehension about the sanctions that were implemented earlier, which we considered and will consider illegal,” he added.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the EU was apparently very much against any peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine.
“By taking this step, the European Union has de facto made its choice against a peaceful resolution of the inter-Ukrainian crisis,” the ministry said in a statement.