Will react if new sanctions imposed, Russia tells EU

First year cadets of the Military University of Communication march during an oath-taking ceremony in St.Petersburg on Saturday.

First year cadets of the Military University of Communication march during an oath-taking ceremony in St.Petersburg on Saturday.

MOSCOW/KIEV/DONETSK: Russia warned Saturday that it would react if the European Union imposed fresh economic sanctions against it over the situation in Ukraine.

“As for the new list of sanctions from the European Union, if they are passed, there will undoubtedly be a reaction from our side,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The cease-fire in Ukraine’s rebellious east appears to be holding, despite some violations early on, the head of the country’s national guard said Saturday. Pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian military accused each other of breaking a tenuous Kremlin-backed truce only hours after it came into force across the war-battered east.

“The cease-fire’s terms are not being observed,” Vladimir Makovich, a leading member of the “Parliament” established by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, told AFP.

National Guard Commander Stepan Poltorak was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that although some shooting took place up to about 45 minutes after the cease-fire, “as of this morning there haven’t been any violations, either from our side, of course, or from the terrorists.”

Ukraine, NATO and Western nations have accused Russia of backing the separatists with weapons, supplies and thousands of regular troops. Moscow has denied this, but a NATO military told The Associated Press that the number of Russian soldiers directly involved in the conflict has grown past the alliance’s earlier estimate of at least 1,000.

In a statement published online Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned further EU sanctions and promised that “there will undoubtedly be a reaction from our side” to any new measures. In August, Russia passed a sweeping ban on meat, fruit, vegetables, and dairy product imports from the EU, the US and a host of other countries who imposed sanctions on Russia.

Moscow criticized the European Union for drawing up the tougher sanctions despite a truce agreed in Minsk that was appearing to hold in eastern Ukraine on Saturday.

But by announcing new sanctions that are expected to be formally approved on Monday, the EU’s leadership “is practically sending a signal of direct support to the ‘party of war’ in Kiev, which is not happy with the results of the Minsk meeting,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

“Instead of feverishly searching for ways to hurt the economies of its own countries and Russia, the European Union would do better to work on supporting the economic revival of the Donbass region” of eastern Ukraine, it added.


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