Putin: US sanctions hurt bilateral ties, US firms

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 17, 2014 at 7:40 am •  Published: July 17, 2014
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MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Thursday lamented the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russia, saying they will stalemate bilateral relations and hurt not only Russian but also American businesses.

Russia's benchmark MICEX was down 2.9 percent in late afternoon trading Thursday upon news of the sanctions while Russia's biggest oil company, Rosneft, was nearly 5 percent down and second-largest oil producer was trading 9 percent lower.

Putin's comments came hours after President Barack Obama announced broader sanctions against Russia, targeting two major energy firms including Rosneft, a pair of powerful financial institutions, eight weapons firms and four individuals. The increased U.S. economic pressure is designed to end the insurgency in eastern Ukraine that is widely believed to be backed by the Kremlin.

The U.S. penalties, however, stopped short of the most stringent actions the West has threatened, which would fully cut off key sectors of Russia's oil-dependent economy. But officials said those steps were still on the table if Russia fails to abide by the West's demands to stop its support for the pro-Russia insurgents who have destabilized eastern Ukraine.

The insurgents have been fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine for four months now in a conflict that the U.N. says has killed over 400 people and has displaced tens of thousands. The conflict took off shortly after Russia annexed the mostly Russian-speaking Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

In televised comments Thursday, Putin said the sanctions are "driving into a corner" relations between the two nations as well as the interests of American companies and "the long-term national interests of the U.S. government and people."

Putin warned Washington that the sanctions will backlash against American companies working in Russia.

The most noticeable companies on the list are Rosneft and Russia's largest independent gas producer, Novatek. Both are now barred from getting long-term loans from U.S. entities.

Moscow-based investment bank Sberbank-CIB said in a note to investors that Russian companies cannot replace long-term loans from the U.S. immediately.

"While Asian and Middle Eastern money can step in to fill the gap, we expect that this will take time," the note said, adding that borrowing will also cost more.

Rosneft has a multibillion-dollar deal with ExxonMobil, which among other things allowed Exxon to develop lucrative oil fields in Russia.

"We gave this American company the right to work on the shelf," Putin said in Brazil, referring to Exxon's potential exploration on the Russian Arctic shelf. "So, what, the United States does not want it to work there now?"