The U.S. won’t follow through on threats to impose industry-wide sanctions on Russia over its policies in Ukraine because they would hurt non-Russian companies too much, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said.
Threats of wider sanctions are like using “nuclear weapons” as a deterrent, Ulyukayev said in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum today. “Nobody uses it.”
The U.S. has imposed travel bans and asset freezes on dozens of Russian officials and billionaires close to President Vladimir Putin since he annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March. The U.S. has pledged industry-wide sanctions if Ukraine’s presidential election to replace deposed Kremlin-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych is disrupted on May 25.
Tensions subsided in Ukraine yesterday after Putin said he wanted to ease the way for the election by pulling back Russian troops from the border.
“Any political process is better than an armed standoff,” Putin told reporters in Shanghai, where Russia signed a $400 billion deal to supply gas to China for 30 years.
The national ballot is taking center stage in the Ukrainian crisis as the violence has ebbed in the easternmost Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where pro-Russian separatists have seized government buildings and proclaimed republics. The U.S. and its European allies have accused Russia of fomenting the unrest in mostly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
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