West’s new sanctions subverts peace process in Ukraine

The West’s new package of sanctions against Russia looks “somewhat strange,” since this move actually subverts the peace process in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“As for sanctions that were imposed today, or yesterday, it all looks somewhat strange – even on this background of the use of (sanction) mechanisms,” Putin told journalists.

“Some time ago, I had a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and after it I proposed a plan how to solve this conflict peacefully and our positions coincided to a greater extent,” Putin said, adding that his plan had been used as a basis for peace agreements “committed to paper at a Contact Group meeting in Minsk.”

“And I would like to mention it with satisfaction that the process has moved off the starting block,” with combat operations stopped and the offensive by the East Ukraine’s militia suspended, he said. Apart from that, “you have to give the Ukrainian president his dues, the Ukrainian army has made corresponding steps under the agreements: they have withdrawn artillery and multiple launch rocket systems off populated areas to a distance that makes it impossible to fire on these settlement.”

“A peace process has begun, first contacts have been launched and I think this process has yielded a possibility to begin a political settlement, at least provisionally,” Putin said. “It has brought some positive air into the situation, which showed on Ukraine’s southeastern regions.”

Bearing this in mind, Putin said he did not see what had triggered further sanctions from the European Union. “I can’t understand what these next sanction steps are about,” he said.

“I’ve said it many a time that our Western partners first drove the situation into an anti-constitutional coup and then supported the punitive operation in the Southeast and now that the situation has switched over to the track of peace settlement someone is taking steps aimed at breaking the peace process up,” Putin said.

“What is this done for?” he asked.

The EU and US imposed a new batch of sanctions on Russia for Ukrainian developments from Friday despite the fact that the parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during OSCE-mediated talks on September 5, and that the truce took effect the same day.

The new sanctions the European Union and the United States decided against Russia, target the country’s largest banks, energy and defense companies, as well as individuals.

Building on earlier measures, the sanctions target Russian access to capital markets, ban the sale of dual use equipment to nearly a dozen Russian companies, and add dozens of people to the list of those facing travel and financial restrictions. The new initiative follows on a change of tactics made in July, switching from targeted sanctions against individuals and businesses to measures against entire sectors of the Russian economy.

The EU made their announcement first, stating Friday that sanctions targeting Russia’s finance, energy and defense sectors had come into force.