Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to “prepare response measures” against sanctions imposed on his country by the EU and the United States of America as well as to plan for a humanitarian intervention in Ukraine.
“I have already given the order today,” said the leader of the Kremlin, who added that “political pressure instruments are unacceptable to the economy, because they contradict all norms and rules.”
Putin said he expects the government to fulfill its mandate as soon as possible, but warned that the Russian response to the sanctions must take into account the interests of Russian companies and consumers.
“It must be done with extreme caution, to support domestic producers without harming consumers,” said the Russian president, who recalled that the Russian government “has proposed a series of measures in response to calls for sanctions from some countries “.
Putin hinted that his country‘s response to Western sanctions will return Russia to a competitive balance, specifically Russian companies, which according to the Russian President is in the best interests of Russian national security and the rules of World Trade Organization.
The United States and the European Union agreed a week ago to draft new economic sanctions against Russia for ‘not doing enough to ease the tension in the Ukrainian crisis’. These two blocks also blamed Russia for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane that flew over eastern Ukraine. Neither the US not the EU presented any proof to support their assertions.
The sanctions, which are directed against Russian public banks, the defense and the oil sectors, forced the Russian government to rethink its economic policy and budget strategy for this and next year.
Humanitarian Mission in Ukraine
Besides calling for an immediate response against the sanctions, Russian President, Vladimir Putin asked the government to call on for an immediate international humanitarian mission to eastern Ukraine.
The region has been the scene of fierce fighting between Ukrainian forces and Eastern civilians who demand sovereignty from Kiev. “We call for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to address the humanitarian situation in Ukraine”, said Russian ambassador to the international body, Vitali Churkin.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Monday that Russia officially asked the UN, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe and the International Committee of the Red Cross organization to begin a humanitarian mission to eastern Ukraine.
“The Russian side considers it necessary to mobilize the international community to help the inhabitants of the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, where the situation is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) acknowledged Tuesday that at least 730,000 Ukrainians have fled their country to seek refuge in Russia since the conflict began in eastern Ukraine. “There seems to exist credible data provided by Russia. Ukrainians who have crossed the border are not tourists.
Other 117,000 Ukrainians have been registered as IDPs, and the UNHCR believes that although the actual figure could be higher, because men prefer to hide this condition from the Ukrainian government to avoid reprisals if they return to their homes.
In the city of Lugansk, people have been under heavy bombings launched by the Ukrainian army which has killed more than a hundred civilians since late July. Most of the 250,000 of its inhabitants are pensioners and families with young children most of whom can not leave their houses for different reasons.
After several weeks of fighting between forces and civilians people in the east are now experiencing shortage of food and medicine.