‘Unhinged Russophobia’: Moscow slams new barrage of US & Canada sanctions over Kerch standoff

The main building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation in Moscow. © Global Look Press/ Leonid Faerberg / Free

The Russian Foreign Ministry has vowed retaliation to the new portion of economic sanctions rolled out by Washington and Ottawa over the November showdown near Crimean shores.

The ministry has called “groundless” the allegations by the US and Canadian governments that Russia was the aggressor in the November 25 incident in the Black Sea, when three Ukrainian warships sailed into Russian territorial waters.

Moscow said that the Ukrainian vessels had not obtained proper permits to cross the strait and ignored repeated warnings by the Russian coast guard to stop when they entered the Russian waters near Crimea. Three Ukrainian sailors were injured in the standoff, and a total of 24 Ukrainian personnel were detained and put on trial in Russia for violating Russian state borders.

The ships were later found to be armed and were reportedly intended on crossing the waterway that separates mainland Russia from Crimea in a “stealthy” manner.

READ MORE: Russian businessman Deripaska sues US over ‘devastating power of sanctions

On Friday, Washington imposed sanctions on six businessmen and politicians and eight enterprises, while Ottawa slapped economic restrictions on 114 individuals and 15 entities. The ministry specifically took aim at Canada for racing to keep up with the US’ Russia-bashing.

“It seems that from a normal logic standpoint, it would be more important for [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau’s team to concentrate on resolving rather complex problems at home, than play its ‘Russophobia card’ in vain.”

Both US and Canada continue to follow a “perilous course” aimed at a “total destruction” of relations with Russia, already at rock bottom due to “unhinged Russophobia that has engulfed Washington and Ottawa,” the ministry said.

Moscow has vowed to mount a “practical response” to the new sanctions.

Shipyards based in St. Petersburg and Crimea and Russian officials that were responding to the incident in the Kerch Strait were among those included in Washington’s black list. Canada also targeted prominent Russian politicians and business executives, such as the head of the Russian oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin, and the head of the National Guard, Victor Zolotov.

Oleg Deripaska, Russian aluminum tycoon, sanctioned by the US last year, is meanwhile taking the US government to court arguing that the restrictions were based “on false rumor and innuendo” and violated the US constitution.

Deripaska was forced to lower his stake in the aluminum giant Rusal to spare it from sanctions, but sanctions targeting him personally remain in place.

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