Russia has denounced the European Union’s move to maintain sanctions against Moscow over its role in the Ukraine conflict, calling Thursday’s decision to extend the measures “destructive.”
Speaking to reporters Friday in Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to specify how Russia would respond, but said it would “do what is in its national interests in terms of retaliatory steps.”
He said that Russia would “prefer to engage in creative matters, not destructive matters such as sanctions rhetoric.”
Peskov also accused Kyiv of violating the terms of the cease-fire agreement for eastern Ukraine, signed in Minsk, Belarus, last month.
European Union leaders, meeting in Brussels, said Thursday they would not lift economic sanctions against Russia until the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, which Moscow endorsed, is fully implemented.
EU President Donald Tusk said the decision showed the 28-nation EU intends to continue pressing Moscow to stop supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has claimed more than 6,000 lives since the conflict began last April.
Moscow has repeatedly denied it is directly supporting the rebels in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking border regions. It has strenuously objected to a series of sanctions imposed by the EU, the United States, and a number of other countries.
Existing European sanctions were scheduled for renewal in July, and some EU countries had wanted to extend them at least until the end of 2015. Other member countries had earlier called for a wait-and-see approach, linking any future decisions to military developments on the ground.
Both the European Union and the United States have targeted senior Russian officials and allies of President Vladimir Putin with visa bans and asset freezes. Further Western penalties have targeted Russia’s banking and energy sectors.
Thursday’s EU decisions did not include any new sanctions.