Blacklisting Russian individuals and targeting the country’s economy is but an emotional step the EU took after an apparent instruction from the US, Russian State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin told RT. But Moscow hasn’t sought to even the score, he added.
Naryshkin called the personalized sanctions imposed on Russian MPs, including Naryshkin himself, by European counterparts “strange, or even absurd” since Europeans “have always prided themselves on their democratic tradition,” while the personalized sanctions are “absolutely at odds” with that.
“Our partners keep saying that it's very important to hear Russia's stance on this highly complex situation that presents a threat to Europe. But then they go ahead and limit their own ability to maintain contact and dialogue with the Russian side, and specifically Russian MPs,” Naryshkin said, adding that sanctions are not the “end of the world.”
“We should convey our point of view to the European public and our colleagues – the MPs – through every possible means, including the media and the contacts we MPs – and I – personally have,” the speaker said.
No sanctions or restrictions could possibly isolate Russia, Naryshkin said, recalling American President Barack Obama proudly reporting that he had “isolated Russia” while addressing officers at West Point Military Academy.
“But just a few weeks after that Moscow hosted a conference, the International Parliamentary Forum, attended by MPs, experts, researchers and NGO representatives from 71 countries,” Naryshkin said. “An extensive and open dialogue is our response and our strategy.”
The speaker of the Russian parliament believes that though the latest sanctions of the European countries against Russia could be “an emotional response based on misunderstanding and misconception regarding the actual reasons behind the situation in Ukraine,” to a large extent European partners acted “as advised or even instructed by Washington.”
Naryshkin called the international economic sanctions against Russia “a tool used for unfair competition – an unlawful tool that is not based on a court ruling and is not sanctioned by the UN.”
As for the sanctions targeting individuals, Naryshkin believes their purpose is to “limit our ability to express our views, so Western Europe remains unaware of Russia's arguments.”
With Washington announcing more sanctions on the way, such statements from the US should rather “scare Europe, not Russia.”
“First of all, it's Europe who will be implementing these decisions should they be made. Secondly, it's Europe, European businesses and European taxpayers who will have to pay the price for this policy,” Naryshkin said.
He acknowledged, however, that some “sensible European MPs” have been against sanctions against Moscow from the very beginning, and their number has only grown since then.
“As the sanctions policy spirals out of control, MPs and politicians in general are starting to question its effectiveness,” he said, pointing out that European MPs “with increasing clarity” are beginning to realize that “it's their people who have to pay the price for this policy.”
"While imposing sanctions on Russia, EU governments make their own businesses and their own people pick up the tab – and make them pay for their political mistakes,” Naryshkin said.
The Duma speaker also said that Russia is far from settling scores with the countries that sanctioned it internationally, and that the countermeasures taken only serve the goal of ensuring the security of national food supplies.
“We should keep in mind that food production and agricultural production are highly sensitive sectors of the economy when it comes to maintaining national security, ensuring food supply security,” Naryshkin said, stressing that “sanctions ruined the reputation of the western countries as reliable partners when it comes to food supply and buying agricultural goods from them.”
“We had to take measures,” Naryshkin said.
“I would like to reiterate that the measures adopted by Russia have nothing to do with reciprocating [toward] our partners [for their sanctions against Russia], not at all. This is only an aspiration to ensure national food supply security,” Naryshkin said, adding that he hopes that Russia’s decision has “brought our western partners back to earth, because the damage that European business is now suffering is substantial.”
Naryshkin gave the example that just one country alone, France, could expect to lose about 1 billion euros by the end of 2014 alone.
Commenting on Friday’s incident with Poland closing its airspace to the aircraft of Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, the speaker of the Russian parliament said that such steps by the Polish government “will certainly do no good for Russian-Polish bilateral relations.”
“At the very least, I can say Poland will not sell more apples by acting this way,” Naryshkin said.