Russia-West relations at ‘point of no return’, says Moscow

Sanctions against Russian president Vladimir Putin show ‘complete impotency’ of West’s foreign policy, official adds

Divya Soundararajan
Saturday 26 February 2022 04:56
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Russia vetoes UN draft resolution to condemn Ukraine operation

Relations between Moscow and western countries are near the point of no return, a Russian official warned on Friday as the US, UK and EU announced sanctions in response to the Ukraine invasion.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the sanctions against Russian president Vladimir Putin and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov showed the “complete impotency” of the foreign policy of the West. Dismissing them, she added: “Neither Putin nor Lavrov have accounts in Britain or anywhere abroad.”

Ukraine is under Russian invasion for the third day on Saturday, with no signs of talks between Moscow and Kyiv to resolve the conflict.

“It wasn’t our choice. We wanted dialogue, but the Anglo-Saxons closed those options one by one and we began acting differently,” Ms Zakharova said on Russian television, according to AFP news agency. “It’s not because of threats, but the thing is that we have reached the line after which the point of no return begins.”

Her statement came before the White House announced on Friday that the United States would personally sanction Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov. The sanctions would include a travel ban.

The European Union and the United Kingdom have also announced sanctions against Mr Putin.

Boris Johnson will “imminently” impose sanctions directly targeting them, No 10 announced on Friday. It comes after the UK government imposed asset freezes on Russian banks, airlines and oligarchs close to the Kremlin on Thursday in response to the military offensive in the eastern European country.

EU states agreed to freeze any European assets of Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov on Friday, after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for more forceful action to punish back against Russia’s invasion.

“It’s a politically important signal,” a senior EU diplomat said, referring to the decision to target the Kremlin’s senior figures.

One EU official said that the latest round of sanctions would be followed by another that may target “many more” Russian oligarchs. “We are moving as quickly as we can,” the official said.

Russian troops reached the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early on Saturday morning, attacking a military base in the city, as well as attempting to capture an electricity generation station. It came just hours after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had predicted Russian troops would mount a major attack on the city overnight.

Zelensky had said on Friday night that the “fate of Ukraine is being decided right now” as explosions rang out across the city and desperate families sheltered in underground stations. He added that Russia would be using all its might “to break our resistance”.

“This night we must persevere,” he said. “This night will be hard, very hard, but morning will come.”

Thousands of volunteers have been armed in the capital Kyiv with rifles, as the Ukrainian government seeks any assistance it can get to repel the Russian attack.

Meanwhile, Russia blocked a UN resolution demanding a stop to its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine said that at least 137 people have been killed, including civilians, while Russia has not released casualty figures.

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