RIA Novosti: Russia to Contest West’s Unilateral Economic Sanctions in WTO

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ST. PETERSBURG, June 20 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow intends to refer the issue of unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West to the World Trade Organization, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday.

“When the United States imposed on Russia sanctions that create negative consequences for foreign trade, we decided to challenge them in the World Trade Organization. Although we understand that it won’t be easy,” Medvedev said at the International Legal Forum in St. Petersburg.

“These [trade] limitations cause damage, so a protection [against them] is needed. We have sent a communiqué to inform the WTO about the US failure to comply with its trade obligations. I think this is normal practice, absolutely civilized,” the prime minister added.

Medvedev believes the unilateral sanctions against Russia are illegitimate according to international law. “They have no basis in the international law and do not correspond to social order, first of all because they ignore the mechanisms comprised in the UN Charter, on using forceful measures,” the prime minister said.

“The sanctions indeed violate the rules of the World Trade Organization, including the most favored regime in trade,” Medvedev said, adding Russia will have a chance to “assess the impartiality” of the organization.

Since March, the US and EU have imposed targeted sanctions against Russian officials over the political crisis in Ukraine, freezing their assets and banning them from obtaining visas, as well as against Russian companies.

The leaders of the G7 group of nations have further threatened Russia with sanctions against key sectors of the country’s economy in the event of further escalation in the Ukrainian crisis.

The EU has said it has a three-stage sanctions process. The third stage, not yet reached, would be broad economic sanctions against entire Russian economy.