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12 Sep, 2014 14:03

Putin: New EU sanctions 'odd', Russia will consider safe alternatives, won't harm itself

Putin: New EU sanctions 'odd', Russia will consider safe alternatives, won't harm itself

The latest list of sanctions looks “quite odd” in view of the peace drive including a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said as the EU’s restricting measures came into force Friday.

Speaking after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Putin said that Russia has not ruled out responding with tit-for-tat sanctions. At the same time, he said, those measures would only be implemented if they did not harm Russia, and if they would help protect the country.

"The government is thinking about that. But if they are to be imposed, this will be to create better conditions for ourselves,” Putin said.

As for trade partnerships and cooperation in sectors targeted by the EU sanctions, Putin said that “there is always an alternative” in case somebody “does not want to work with Russia.”

There are some things that are negative, but if we consider the problem in its totality, there is more positive than negative,” Putin said, adding that sanctions open up opportunities for Russia’s manufacturers.

Putin has criticized attempts to “destabilize” the situation in Ukraine rather than solve it. Putting the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Igor Plotnitsky, on the list of people sanctioned may jeopardize the peace talks in Ukraine, Putin said.

I have this seditious thought on my mind, that Ukraine itself is not a subject of interest, rather it is simply being used as a tool to undermine international relations,” Putin said.

Members of the Ukrainian government forces, who are prisoners-of-war (POWs), exit a bus as they wait to be exchanged, north of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, September 12, 2014. (Reuters/Marko Djuric)

Moscow on sanctions: ‘EU unwilling to see Russia’s efforts on Ukraine’

On Thursday, Moscow expressed its regrets over the sanctions, saying that the EU “does not see or is unwilling to see” Russia’s recent efforts to help stop the bloodshed in Ukraine and peacefully resolve the conflict between Kiev and the country’s southeast regions.

The new restrictions targeting Russia’s energy, finance and defense sectors came into force on Friday morning, after their publication in the EU Official Journal.

EU publishes Russia sanctions list: Energy, finance, defense targeted

The EU has restricted three Russian energy companies from raising long-term debt on European capital markets – Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft.

Services that Russia needs to extract oil and gas in the Arctic, deep sea and shale extraction projects have also appeared on the sanctions list.

The export of any technology considered military “dual-use” to nine Russian companies has been banned, including the manufacturer of Kalashnikov rifles.

Five major Russian state-owned banks – Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Rosselkhozbank (Russian Agricultural Bank) – have been banned from receiving any long-term (over 30-day) loans from EU companies.

AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand

In addition, 24 individuals, including Russian MPs and businessmen as well as politicians in Crimea and the Donbass, have been prohibited from traveling to the EU and any assets there have been frozen.

US extends Russia sanctions, targets biggest lender Sberbank & gas giant Gazprom

The US has matched the EU initiative with its own set of sanctions, which also targeted Russia’s biggest lenders – Sberbank, Gazprombank and Rosselkhozbank - as well as the country’s state-owned technology firms and five energy companies.

In the oil sector, there will be new limitations on exploration facilities for Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegaz and Rosneft.

The US also said it would prohibit "transactions in, provision of financing for, or other dealings in new debt of greater than 90 days maturity issued by two additional Russian energy companies, Gazprom Neft and Transneft.”