Senior Russian officials blast US sanctions as ineffective, myopic

People take part in a rally marking the second anniversary of Crimea voting to leave Ukraine and join the Russian state in central Simferopol on March 16, 2016. © Max Vetrov
Russian lawmakers have commented on a US State Department promise to keep sanctions against Russia in force, calling such policies shortsighted and reminding Americans that sanctions on Cuba yielded no results despite being in force for half a century.

If the USA learned nothing from the disastrous experience of their 55-year sanctions against Cuba, they can enjoy their sanctions against Russia over Crimea for 55 more years,” the chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Relations, Aleksey Pushkov (United Russia), tweeted on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Lawmaker suggests marking Crimea reunification day as national holiday

The MP went on to point at inconsistency of the American foreign policy as the US manages to simultaneously condemn the “demarcation of state borders by force methods” while supporting Kosovo’s breakup from Serbia, starting a war in Iraq or delivering airstrikes on Syria.

The comment came soon after the spokesman for the US State Department, John Kirby, told reporters that his country would maintain the anti-Russian sanctions until the “occupation” of the Crimean Peninsula is over. He also said that the United States did not recognize the referendum on Crimea’s reunification with Russia two years back.

Russian upper house Speaker Valentina Matviyenko called the fresh US statement “short-sighted, unfounded and faulty.” She added that the results of the 2014 referendum in Crimea were irreversible.

The referendum was held strictly in accordance with international law and there is nothing above the will of the people. This is why there can be no discussion over the very possibility of change in the Russian position on Crimea or returning this republic to anyone,” the Russian official said on Wednesday.

© Max Vetrov

Two years ago the Crimean Republic became part of the Russian Federation after over 96 percent of its residents – the majority of whom are ethnic Russians – supported the move in an urgently-called referendum. The decision was prompted by the ousting of the democratically-elected president of Ukraine and installation of nationalists-backed regime that almost immediately started a war against pro-Russian regions in the southeast.

READ MORE: 95.7% of Crimeans in referendum voted to join Russia - preliminary results

On Wednesday Crimea will mark the second anniversary of the referendum with a major rally in its capital, Simferopol. At least 1,500 people are expected to participate in this event.