Updated 03:34 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - By imposing economic restrictions on Russia, Western countries have ignored basic World Trade Organization norms and rejected the principle of fair and free competition, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
"The restrictions imposed on Russia are nothing but the rejection of basic WTO principles. The principle of equal access of all states to goods and services markets was violated, while the preferential trade regime and the principle of fair and free competition was ignored," he said.
Last week, Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the new round of US and EU economic sanctions had given Moscow an extra incentive to appeal the restrictions in the WTO. Earlier, presidential aide Andrei Belousov claimed preparations for a legal dispute against the Western sanctions were already under way. The official also warned a Russian loss in the ensuing legal battle against the sanctions would lead to a negative precedent for global trade with political interests dominating over free trade principles.
Washington and Brussels have introduced several rounds of economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged role in the Ukrainian conflict. The latest round of restrictions, which came into effect on September 12, targeted the Russian banking, energy and defense sectors. Senior Russian officials have repeatedly branded sanctions as counterproductive and illegal and claimed Russia was not involved in the Ukrainian internal conflict.