Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told his US counterpart on Friday that any sanctions introduced by the US against Russia will have a “boomerang” effect and urged Washington to steer away from actions that could hurt relations between the countries.
Lavrov told Washington to refrain from “hasty and reckless” decisions over Ukraine that would deteriorate US-Russia relations, RIA Novosti reported. His comments were made during a telephone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The foreign minister warned that any sanctions against Russia “would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang.”
On Thursday, the US imposed visa restrictions on Russian and Crimean officials and private citizens who they accused of “threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity,” the White House said.
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against “individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”
According to the White House, the order is a “flexible tool” that will allow the US to sanction those whom it believes are “most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea.” The document does not preclude further steps in case the situation deteriorates, it added.
The announcement comes as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea prepares to hold a March 16 referendum on whether it wants to remain part of Ukraine or join Russia.
During a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama earlier on Friday, the two identified differences in approach and analyzed the root causes of the current crisis in Ukraine, the Kremlin’s press office said.
Putin stated that Russia and the US should not sacrifice their relationship for separate – albeit important – international problems. Putin added that Russia cannot ignore calls for help and is adequately responding within the framework of international law.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a state television program late Friday that Russia does not want to return to Cold War type relations with the US.
“There still remains hope…that some points of agreement [over the Ukrainian crisis] could be found as a result of dialogue – which our partners, thank God, have not yet rejected,” Peskov said.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to heap further pressure on Moscow, NATO announced on Wednesday a full review of its cooperation with Russia and said it would suspend planning for a joint mission linked to the Syrian chemical weapons. Moscow slammed the move as an application of “Cold War” stereotypes and double standards.
Crimean authorities have denounced the coup-imposed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The authorities have asked Russia to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.