Lavrov: Moscow will respond if EU imposes sanctions
Earnest March 7, 2014
Media MOSCOW—Moscow says it will respond if the EU imposes sanctions on Russia over its occupation of Crimea.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on March 7 that "Russia will not
accept the language of sanctions and threats" and that if they are
implemented, "they will not be left without a response."
The EU has said it will consider asset freezes and travel bans if the
Russian government does not start negotiations with Ukrainian
authorities in the "next few days."
The Kremlin also challenged Washington over talk of sanctions.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned U.S. Secretary of State
John Kerry in a telephone call on March 7 that planned U.S. sanctions
against Russia would "inevitably boomerang" on the United States.
Meanwhile, Moscow police say more than 65,000 people gathered at a rally
next to St Basil's Cathedral to support pro-Russian authorities in
Crimea who want to join Russia.
The rally, called "We are together," took place just outside the Kremlin walls.
Protester Vera Zaitseva said: "All people living in Crimea consider
themselves Russians. For a long time they've been willing to become
Russian citizens, because they really didn't like what happened a long
time ago, when Crimea stopped being Russian."
The Crimean parliament on March 6 voted in favor of the region becoming part of Russia and scheduled a referendum for March 16.
In Moscow, the heads of both of Russia's parliamentary chambers met with
the leader of Crimea's parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov.
Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of the State Duma, said after the meeting
that the lower house will respect the Crimeans' "historic choice."
"We realize that this decision was made as a result of the acute
political crisis that is taking place in Ukraine, and it is connected
with the effort to ensure the rights and freedoms of citizens, simply to
protect human lives," Naryshkin said.
Russian news agency ITAR-TASS quotes Konstantinov as saying that not
only Crimea should "be reunified with Russia, but the whole of Ukraine."
Separately, the Organization for Security and Co-operation In Europe
(OSCE) says its military observers have again been denied access to
Crimea and are heading back to the Ukrainian city of Kherson to plan
their next step.
The OSCE's announcement via Twitter came after news agencies reported
that armed men at a checkpoint blocked two buses carrying OSCE observers
from entering Crimea.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the OSCE observers had failed to
obtain "official invitations" from the Crimean authorities.