Russia will mirror EU sanctions over Ukraine – lawmaker
MOSCOW, Russia – Russia will mirror any visa sanctions the European Union imposes on its lawmakers, a senior parliamentarian said Wednesday, March 12, as Moscow and the West slug it out diplomatically over the crisis in Ukraine.
Alexei Pouchkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Duma, the lower house of parliament, said Russia would hit back after a suggestion by British Prime Minister David Cameron that the EU should restrict the movement of ruling politicians in protest at the de-facto annexation of Crimea.
"Of course, Russia would respond with the same measures," said Pouchkov, according to Russian news agencies.
This would amount to "an unprecedented freezing of inter-parliamentary relations" and would interfere with the work of international organisations like the Council of Europe and the OSCE, he said.
"It would be worse than during the Cold War when contacts like this allowed some easing of international tensions," he said.
But, added Pouchkov, if the EU decides to freeze contacts with Moscow, Russia will simply build relations elsewhere.
"Parliamentarians will develop links with other lawmakers outside Europe. It is only 28 countries; the world is not only the EU," he said.
Europe and the United States say Sunday's referendum in Crimea on independence from Ukraine is illegal, and have called on Russia to withdraw forces from the peninsula, on pain of diplomatic sanctions.
On Monday, March 10, Cameron told lawmakers the EU was looking at "further measures, the so-called second phase, which would need to start rapidly" if Russia failed to cooperate.
"These include asset freezes and travel bans," he said. – Rappler.com