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Ukraine

Putin Lashes Out At West Ahead Of G20 Summit

In an interview with TASS in Vladivostok on November 13, Russian President Vladmir Putin acknowledged that Western sanctions and low oil prices have hurt Russia's economy.
In an interview with TASS in Vladivostok on November 13, Russian President Vladmir Putin acknowledged that Western sanctions and low oil prices have hurt Russia's economy.
By RFE/RL

Russian President Vladimir Putin says economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union, and other Western governments over the Ukraine crisis go against Group of 20 (G20) principles and international law.

Putin told TASS in an interview published on November 14 that the asset freezes, visa bans, and blocks put on Russian companies trying to access Western financial markets earlier this year could only be imposed by the United Nations and its Security Council.

He acknowledged that the sanctions and low oil prices have hurt Russia's economy but said the Kremlin's cash reserves are large enough to handle any economic crisis and meet the government's "social commitments" to its people.

Putin also did not rule out that the government may use some of its reserves to aid the state oil giant Rosneft, which has been hurt by the international sanctions.

He also said Russia wants to leave the "dollar dictatorship" of international oil markets by using both the ruble and China's yuan in such energy transactions.

The ruble has plummeted this year, losing about 25 percent of its value in recent months against the dollar and the euro.

Putin's comments were published hours before he arrived in Australia for a summit of 20 major economies that will bring him face to face with several Western leaders, but he said it "makes no sense" to discuss the sanctions at the G20 meetings.

Australia has said the November 15-16 summit in Brisbane will focus on creating jobs and strengthening the global economy, but it comes amid rising tensions over the conflict in eastern Ukraine following fresh reports of Russian weapons and troops crossing the border.

Kyiv and Western governments are concerned that Putin may want pro-Russian separatists to seize more ground in Ukraine or solidify control over the territory they hold in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, creating a "frozen conflict" that could destabilize the country, drain its economy, and crimp its pro-Western government for years.

However, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said November 14 there was "no reason to panic" over the situation in the country's war-wracked east.

Poroshenko told security and law enforcement officials the Ukrainian armed forces were "ready and capable of repelling" an offensive by pro-Russian separatists if a September 5 cease-fire agreement crumbles.

But he said Kyiv remained committed to finding a "political and peaceful" solution to the conflict, which has left more than 4,000 people dead since April.
 
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on November 14 in New Zealand that she is very worried about reports of "the delivery of arms" to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

She added that Russia is violating Ukraine's territorial integrity and that such issues will be discussed on the sidelines of the G20 meetings.

In the TASS interview, Putin rejected a suggestion that relations with Merkel had deteriorated over the Ukraine crisis.

He is to hold formal meetings on the sidelines of the summit with Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and French President Francois Hollande, among others.

More than 4,000 people have been killed since April in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which followed the ouster of a Russian-backed president in Kyiv and Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March.

The developments have driven ties between Russia and the West to post-Cold War lows.

Russian-Australian relations have been particularly strained over the July downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in eastern Ukraine.

Thirty-eight Australians were among the 298 people who died when the plane was shot down by what Western governments believe was a Russian-supplied missile fired by the rebels.

Moscow denies it has sent military support to aid pro-Russian separatists in a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people since April.

Australia was further unnerved by the arrival of four Russian warships that came to the northeastern Australian coast.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on November 14 that "Russia's economy is declining even as Russia's assertiveness is increasing."

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, AP, and sputniknews.com
 

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