UK & World News

  • 19 April 2014, 8:33

Ex Ukraine PM Urges EU To Step Up Sanctions

The former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has urged EU leaders to impose more sanctions if Russia disregards agreements signed in Geneva.

Even though the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the militias to leave public buildings they had seized in eastern Ukraine, there is no sign of the pro-Russian groups agreeing to do so.

The EU is likely to debate the possibility of more sanctions this week, though if there was to be political progress and a decrease in tensions, that could be postponed.

A senior Russian banking official has told Sky News that if the West imposes more economic sanctions it would be humiliating and embarrassing - but only for those are behind the decision, not Russia.

After the annexation of Crimea, the US and EU announced a limited series of measures targeting individuals and institutions with close links to President Vladimir Putin.

Several banks were targeted, which resulted in US credit card companies Visa and Mastercard withdrawing their facilities.

It meant that Russian customers of the banned banks found they could no longer use their credit and debit cards to buy good or take money from cashpoints.

The Kremlin has announced that it will introduce it's own domestic credit card system to end its reliance on Western credit companies.

Garegin Tosounyan, the President of the Russian Banking Association said

"I was shocked to be honest. I did not expect it from our colleagues, our partners - Visa and Mastercard - that they can behave in such an unfriendly way towards our banks.

"Now I feel embarrassed for my western partners. I was not expecting that civilized, smart, well educated people will start behaving so wrongly.

"The language of sanctions is the language you use when teaching a little boy.

"Our country doesn't deserve to be treated in such a way!  It offended me deeply. And it is humiliating not me but the people talking to me in this way."

And there have been unintended consequences of the sanctions.

In St Petersburg, a man called Sergei Ivanov placed an online order with an American company for some training shoes.  But he was then told they could not be sent to him because he was on a prohibited list.

It is his misfortune that he shares his name with President Putin's Chief of Staff - and tens of thousands of other Russians.  Sergei Ivanov is as common in Russia as John Smith is in England.

Investors have already withdrawn 70 billion dollars from the Russian economy in the past few months; the stock market has fallen more than 10 per cent since February and inflation is expected to reach 6.5%.

The return of Crimea to Russian control may have been popular, but if the price to be paid is a weaker economy, Russians may no longer buy that deal.

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