Russia on Wednesday described as “destructive” the idea of sanctions against its president, Vladimir Putin, mentioned by the United States in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, where the authorities estimated that it was unlikely for now since there are not enough troops deployed on the border.
These statements come shortly before a four-way meeting in Paris between diplomatic advisers to the Russian, Ukrainian, French presidents and the German chancellor, to defuse the crisis after a series of talks between Russians and Americans last week.
Tensions have been growing for months around Ukraine, and Russia is accused of having concentrated tens of thousands of soldiers on the border with a view to an invasion.
Russia, for its part, demands guarantees for its security and rejects an eventual accession of Ukraine to NATO
US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he could “conceive” of personally sanctioning his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, warning of “enormous consequences” from a Moscow attack on Ukraine, a decision that would “change the world.” “.
The Kremlin on Wednesday called the idea of imposing sanctions on President Vladimir Putin in the event of an invasion of Ukraine “destructive” for relations between Russia and the West.
“From a political point of view, it is not painful, it is destructive,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters, warning that the measures would not have the desired effect.
Although Biden did not give details about possible sanctions against Putin, Washington’s sanctions against foreign personalities usually involve a freeze on their assets and a ban on doing business in the United States.
Peskov pointed out that Russian law in principle prohibits the country’s top officials from having assets abroad, so these measures “are not at all painful” for them.
Russia has multiplied military maneuvers in recent weeks, including on the border with Ukraine, with exercises starting on Tuesday involving some 6,000 men, fighter planes and bombers in the south and in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014.
Moscow previously announced naval maneuvers in the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Pacific and the Mediterranean, as well as joint exercises with Belarus, on the borders with the European Union.
Russia has also concentrated up to 100,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian borders.
Despite raising alarm such a concentration of military, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, considered on Wednesday that the number of Russian troops deployed on his border was still “insufficient” for them to launch a major attack against his country.
The number “is important, it represents a threat to Ukraine” but “at the moment we speak, this number is insufficient for a large-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire border,” Kuleba said during a press conference in line.
“Please, never again war!” Pope Francis implored from the Vatican on Wednesday, in the face of growing tensions between the United States and Russia.
The United States on Monday placed some 8,500 soldiers on alert, who could join NATO’s 40,000-strong Rapid Reaction Force. But the decision on its deployment has not yet been made.
NATO, for its part, announced that it was placing its forces on standby, sending ships and fighter planes to reinforce its defenses in Eastern Europe. Russia regards Alliance troops in its neighborhood as an existential threat.