Question: Mr Ryabkov, can you comment on the US Treasury Department’s extension of the sanctions on certain Russian and Crimean organisations, and on individuals and companies in Donbass?
Sergey Ryabkov: I think it necessary to state the following with regard to the decisions announced by the US Department of the Treasury on December 22. The basis on which these decisions are made is wrong and has nothing in common with the reality that has taken shape in recent years in Crimea and southeastern Ukraine.
US government agencies have been stubbornly acting like zombies knocking at an open door. They should be concerned with influencing Kiev, but it makes no sense to repeat this to people who act like zombies. They are fussing around, trying to prove something not even so much to us as to their clients in Kiev and their charges in Europe, who, as the US Treasury explicitly reports, are only too eager to toe Washington’s line.
Question: How will this step affect bilateral relations?
Sergey Ryabkov: Our attitude towards unilateral exterritorial sanctions has always been based on a position of principle that sanctions are unacceptable. We have no second thoughts about this. Neither do we doubt that another series of sanctions declared shortly before the New Year will have the same lack of effect in terms of Washington’s end-goals and will mark yet another low in Russian-American relations, no matter how lamentable this is at this point.
Question: Will Moscow reciprocate?
Sergey Ryabkov: Washington must understand that this decision will certainly have repercussions – as was the case before – in areas that are not easily calculated by the overseas sanctions policy-makers. Our colleagues in the US shouldn’t be surprised when they find further changes in the established reality of Russian-American relations.
Without waiting for Washington’s attempts to argue its case, I’d like to say in advance that we reject the predictable American attempts to represent their current actions as a clarification or a specification of the current sanctions rather than an extension, or as a method to prevent Russian circumvention of the earlier sanctions, that is, to reduce the matter to a less than articulate set of arguments. We will pull off any verbal wrappings that might cover their transparent desire.
We state that the essence of US policy is what it was before. They would like to bring further pressure to bear on Russia through unsuitable methods. But these methods will not accomplish what Washington expects.
We won’t even urge the US to influence, at long last, Kiev to fully implement the Minsk Agreements. We know that our appeals fall on deaf ears and we have come to the conclusion that this is Washington’s conscious political choice. But this choice is doomed to fail: the US will not get the results it wants.