4 March, 18:49

Possible US sanctions against Russia are blackmail - Russian State Duma deputies

Possible US sanctions against Russia are blackmail - Russian State Duma deputies

Russian State Duma deputies see statements by US officials on possible financial sanctions against Russia because of the situation in Ukraine as blackmail.

"The US political and financial blackmail in relation to Russia is in fact aimed at supporting fascists and extremists who have illegally seized power in Ukraine and are forcing our country to stop defending our compatriots and fellow-countrymen," State Duma security and anti-corruption committee head Irina Yarovaya told journalists on Tuesday.

"Those who support terrorists and extremists become criminals themselves," she said.

Russia is acting strictly in line with its constitution and international law, she said.

"You don't have to be a politician, a lawyer, or a specialist in international relations to answer whether you can abandon your compatriots, people close to you or your family members for money," Yarovaya said.

Oleg Lebedev of the United Russia party faction, first deputy head of the Duma committee on CIS affairs and relations with fellow-countrymen, said that Moscow "has supported its compatriots and will continue to support them, despite any obstacles that are being put in our way."

"Russia will continue to stick to the same political and economic position that it has been doing so far. And we aren't going to change our course toward supporting our compatriots abroad," the United Russia party press service quoted Lebedev as saying.

"It's for sure that people are more important for us than money," he said.

Ivan Kvitka, a deputy head of the Duma international affairs committee, believes sanctions against Russia would affect not only Russia as such but also other countries, including European ones, especially when it comes to energy supplies through Europe.

"If something is blocked somewhere, this could have an effect at an absolutely different place, both in Europe and in Asia.

The economy consists of various links of the same chain.

Therefore, it's unlikely that they could venture do this, not to mention on a large scale," Kvitka said in commenting on reports that the US Senate was considering sanctions against Russian banks, including the freezing of Russian government institutions' and private investors' assets.

Kerry arrives in Kiev, US to offer $1 billion to Ukraine

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev on Tuesday and announced an economic package and technical assistance for Ukraine in a show of support for its new government. A senior US administration official, who briefed reporters en route to Kiev, said the Obama administration would work with Congress to approve $1 billion in loan guarantees to help lessen the impact on Ukrainians of proposed energy subsidy cuts.

During his short stopover, Kerry was expected to meet with Ukraine's interim president Oleksandr Turchynov and new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

While on the ground, Kerry was planning to pay homage to the dozens of protesters who died February 20 in anti-government demonstrations.

As Kerry arrived, the White House announced the package of energy aid, along with training for financial and election institutions and anti-corruption efforts. US officials traveling with Kerry, speaking on grounds of anonymity, said the Obama administration is considering imposing unspecified economic sanctions on Russia as soon as this week.

Additionally, the officials said, the US has suspended what was described as a narrow set of discussions with Russia over a bilateral trade investment treaty. It is also going to provide technical advice to the Ukraine government about its trade rights with Russia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be quoted by name before the official announcement was made.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement Tuesday the government was "working with Congress and the government of Ukraine to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees, the proceeds of which will be aimed at protecting the most vulnerable Ukrainian households from the impact of the needed economic adjustment."

"At the same time, the US is moving very quickly to provide technical expertise to help the national bank of Ukraine and the finance ministry address their most pressing challenges," an official travelling with Kerry said.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, AFP, AP

Voice of Russia, Interfax

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