Official: Russia has other options if West shuns its energy

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov says imposing sanctions on Russia will not change Putin’s behavior

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Russia is a reliable energy supplier to western countries but it has other potential partners if they turn elsewhere for oil and gas in response to the Ukraine crisis, Reuters reported First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov as saying on Thursday.

At an event in Berlin, Shuvalov also said that imposing sanctions on Russia would not change the behavior of President Vladimir Putin and that the tougher sanctions were, the more united Russian society would become.

Russia has also condemned the secretary general of NATO for “zealously reproducing Cold War-era rhetoric,” as tensions between the 28-nation alliance and Moscow simmer over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.

In a statement published Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry lashed out at Anders Fogh Rasmussen, accusing him of turning NATO into an “elite club” that employed "double standards" in international politics.

In a speech in Paris on Tuesday, Rasmussen demanded that Russia pull back the tens of thousands of troops NATO says it has amassed on Ukraine’s border.

The alliance says Moscow is using the troops to maintain pressure on the Kiev government, and preparing for possible invasion. In March, Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, whose inhabitants then voted in a referendum to secede and join Russia.

In the same time, Ukraine’s acting president on Thursday promised not to prosecute pro-Russian militants occupying government buildings if they lay down their arms and end their seige.

“If people lay down their arms and free the administration buildings... we guarantee that we will not launch any criminal proceedings against them. I am ready to formalize this in a presidential decree,” Agence Frnace-Presse quoted acting President Oleksandr Turchynov as telling lawmakers.

Pro-Russian separatists are holding buildings in the eastern cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, which Kiev has said could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion.


(With Reuters, AFP and Associated Press)

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