Russia brushes off 'useless' US sanctions
MOSCOW – Russia on Saturday dismissed new U.S. sanctions as useless and said it was poised to wait as long as it takes for the U.S. to recognize its historic right to the Crimean peninsula.
Following several rounds of sanctions earlier this year, President Barack Obama on Friday approved new restrictions on Crimea which Russia annexed in March after a hastily called referendum.
The Russian foreign ministry on Saturday expressed regret that "the United States and Canada still cannot get over the results of a free vote in Crimea in March," the referendum that was condemned by the international community as illegal and held under the guns of Russian troops.
Canada on Friday announced travel bans for dozens of individuals as well as restrictions on the export of technology used in Russia's oil industry.
In a pithy statement, Moscow insisted that the new sanctions won't push Russia to give up Crimea since it is a "historic and integral part of Russia" and said it was working on unspecified measures to retaliate.
The ministry referred to Cuba where it took the U.S. decades to restore diplomatic relations. "The White House took half a century to admit that blockading Cuba with sanctions was useless: well, we can wait too," the statement said.
Obama's order prohibited U.S. companies and individuals from exporting or importing any goods, services or technology to or from Crimea. Likewise, U.S. individuals or companies cannot buy real estate or businesses in Crimea or finance Crimean companies.
It also freezes any assets in the U.S. of individuals determined by the U.S. Treasury Department to be operating in Crimea.
Obama's order follows a European Union ban on investment in Crimea, and other economic restrictions including measures aimed at keeping tourists away.The new measures on investment, services and trade, announced Thursday, beef up the EU's previous response to Russia's annexation of the peninsula.
Europeans and EU-based companies are barred from buying real estate or businesses in Crimea, financing Crimean companies or supplying services as of Saturday.
In addition, EU operators will no longer be allowed to offer tourism services to Crimea's Black Sea beaches or other destinations. Cruise ships owned by an EU-based company or flying an EU member state's flag will also no longer be allowed to call at Sevastopol or other Crimean ports, except in an emergency.
Moscow's harsh anti-American rhetoric comes a time when the Kremlin seems to be departing from its defiant stance on a settlement in eastern Ukraine. It has, for instance, given up its persistent suggestion that the only solution to the bloody conflict in the east is the federalization of Ukraine.