US sanctions list against Russian officials is unacceptable - Kremlin
"Finding some of the names on this list causes nothing but an
extreme embarrassment, but no matter what the names are, finding
any lists is unacceptable for us," President Vladimir
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Thursday.
He added that Russia’s retaliation to the new sanctions will not take long.
"In any case, Russia's reaction to these lists will be based on a reciprocity principle and will not be long in coming."
The second round of sanctions imposed on Thursday singles out 20 top Russian political figures and businessman, among whom is Sergey Ivanov, head of the Kremlin administration.
Ivanov reacted to the news with humor, Peskov said, adding that this is not the first time that a Western country has barred him from entering.
“While I cannot say anything about the reaction of others, but as far as Sergey Ivanov, he reacted with humor. In his earlier professional life, during more than 20 years of service in the first headquarters of the KGB, and then Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, as a result of operational activity he has already been denied entry to most Western countries, so he is no stranger to this," said Peskov.
Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin – also banned from entering the US according to the list – said that such measures are “contrary to the principles of freedom of speech and opinion declared in the US."
Yakunin reflected on the decision, saying he is surprised that “a country which calls itself democratic could punish for an honest position and sincere comments.”
The company considers such sanctions "groundless and unconstructive, hampering the development of economic cooperation in the railway sector between Russia and the United States."
Russian Railways added that the ban is not just a sanction against a Russian official, but also against the head of a large international organization, stressing that Yakunin was chosen by the international community as head of the International Union of Railways.
Earlier on Thursday, Moscow slapped sanctions on US officials in retaliation for the first round of US sanctions imposed on Russian officials on Monday. Moscow's list includes 10 names, among whom are House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Senator John McCain, as well as D. Pfeiffer and C. Atkinson – both of whom are advisors to President Obama.
In reaction to the sanctions, Senator J. McCain published a statement on Twitter stating, “I'm proud to be sanctioned by Putin – I'll never cease my efforts and dedication to freedom and independence of Ukraine, which includes Crimea.”
He was joined by House of Representatives Speaker Boehner.
Proud to be included on a list of those willing to stand against Putin’s aggression http://t.co/AL67mauKqq
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) March 20, 2014
The tit-for-tat lists follow Crimea’s resolution on independence and integration into Russia. This decision was sparked by the bloody Maidan protests that resulted in the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich. The Crimeans refused to recognize the coup-imposed government and expressed their will to succeed Ukraine and join Russia.