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    Ukrainian naval ships violating Russian maritime border, Photo: Crimea's FSB Press Service

    Anti-Russia Sanctions Imposed Due to Strong US Pressure - Lavrov

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    On Tuesday, the Financial Times reported that the United States and the European Union had been negotiating and were close to reaching an agreement on imposing new economic sanctions against Russia after the incident in the Sea of Azov in late November.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Tuesday that the possible sanctions over the Kerch Strait incident are imposed under strong pressure from the United States.

    "But we also know that these sanctions are taken under the strongest US pressure, which once again shows the EU's lack of independence. Sad," Lavrov said.

    READ MORE: From Kerch Strait to Meeting With Trump: Highlights of Putin's Year-End Presser

    He also said that Russia doesn't discuss sanctions with anyone and it is focused on developing its economy so it does not depend on other states' whims.

    "We have already said a long time ago that we are not discussing sanctions with anyone. We want to build our economy, trade with normal foreign partners so as not to depend on someone's whims. In this case, the whims of those who did not keep their word, allowed a coup in Kiev, did not make the opposition fulfill agreements with [then] president [Viktor] Yanukovych, " Lavrov said at a press conference following talks with his Lesotho counterpart Lesego Makgothi.

    He added he considered the planned sanctions as a sign that the Europeans were again admitting their inability to make Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko implement the Minsk agreements.

    The foreign minister's comments follow the Financial Times' earlier reports that the US and the EU were close to reaching an agreement on imposing new economic anti-Russia sanctions for its alleged aggression toward Ukraine in the Sea of Azov in late November.

    On November 25, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats, and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. Russia seized the Ukrainian vessels and detained 24 people on board after they failed to respond to a demand to stop. After the incident, a criminal case on illegal border crossing was opened in Russia.

    Moscow has repeatedly slammed Kiev's attempts to portray the detained sailors as prisoners of war, stressing that they faced criminal charges. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the incident was a provocation prepared in advance as a pretext to declare martial law, which was announced after the incident and lasted for a month. Putin said the provocation could be linked to Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko's low approval ratings ahead of the presidential election, set to be held in March.


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    sanctions, Financial Times, Vladimir Putin, Sergei Lavrov, Kerch Strait, Russia
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