US sanctions break WTO rules, Russia says

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Tom Miles Geneva

Russia has told the US its Ukraine-related sanctions on a Russian bank and citizens are illegal under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and must be scrapped.

Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said last week that Russia could launch a dispute at the world trade body to challenge the sanctions. The warning, set out in a confidential document on Wednesday, explained what grounds Russia would have for doing so.

Member countries can claim some exemptions from WTO rules, including on grounds of national security.

The US and EU have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on a few Russians in protest at Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last month.

The US sanctions also targeted Bank Rossiya and its largest shareholder, Yuri Kovalchuk.

US President Barack Obama said yesterday that he was poised to impose more sanctions on Moscow if it did not act fast to end an armed stand-off in Ukraine’s east. – Reuters

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