Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed economic sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union amid Russia’s alleged military involvement in eastern Ukraine. However, Putin said Friday it would be “pointless” to address the sanctions at the G-20 summit in Australia, where world leaders will convene Saturday to discuss international economic growth, the BBC reports. The sanctions targeted several of Russia’s biggest companies, including oil giant Rosneft.
“This contradicts international law, because sanctions can only be imposed within the framework of the United Nations and its Security Council,” said Putin during an interview with Itar-Tass, a Russian state news agency. “This is harmful, and of course is doing us some damage, but it’s harmful for them as well because, in essence, it’s undermining the entire system of international economic relations.”
Putin said Russia’s economic reserves are stable enough to weather the sanctions, Reuters reports. Initial sanctions were imposed in March after the Russian annexation of Crimea. A second wave was enacted after Russia allegedly sent military troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine to intervene in the ongoing conflict between pro-government nationalists and pro-Russian separatists. Russia has denied that it took military action in the region.
Speaking ahead of a planned Saturday meeting with Putin, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron compared Russia’s actions to those of Nazi Germany ahead of World War II. “Russian action in Ukraine is unacceptable. We have to be clear about what we are dealing with. It is a large state bullying a smaller state in Europe. We have seen the consequences of that in the past and we should learn the lessons of history and make sure we don’t let it happen again,” he said Friday, according to the Telegraph.
Cameron said Russian cooperation in Ukraine would merit a reduction in sanctions, while increased interference in the region would lead to renewed penalties. "If Russia takes a positive approach toward Ukraine's freedom and responsibility, we could see those sanctions removed; if Russia continues to make matters worse then we could see those sanctions increased, it's as simple as that," he said, according to Reuters.
NATO’s top commander, U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, accused Russia Wednesday of moving troops, tanks and artillery into eastern Ukraine – charges that Russia’s defense ministry denied. Hours later, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the nation would extend its long-range bomber patrols as far as the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.