Ukraine’s prime minister says Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to destroy Ukraine as an independent country, despite a truce deal.
Speaking at an international conference Saturday in Kyiv, Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Mr. Putin’s goal is to take all of Ukraine which was part of the former Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk praised the new wave of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West.
The European Union and the United States have expanded sanctions targeting Russia’s energy, financial and defense sectors in a new push to punish Moscow for its role in the Ukraine crisis.
Hours after the penalties took effect Friday, Moscow vowed to retaliate. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the new U.S. measures a “hostile step in line with the confrontational course taken by the U.S. administration.”
The new sanctions close down Western aid to Russia’s burgeoning deepwater Arctic offshore and shale oil exploration. They also target five defense companies, and the arms and technology company Rostec, as well as several leading banks, including Russia’s largest, Sberbank.
Senior Obama administration officials stressed that the United States can and will roll back the new penalties, if Moscow and the Pro-Russian separatists Russia is accused of supporting fully implement a cease-fire deal reached earlier this month.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has said the EU sanctions could also be amended, suspended or repealed after the EU reviews the state of the cease-fire at the end of September.
President Putin on Friday called the EU sanctions “strange,” saying they undermine the “peace process” in eastern Ukraine.
A second Russian humanitarian aid convoy crossed into Ukraine territory overnight, heading for the city of Luhansk. The OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Observer Mission at the Donetsk checkpoint reported that the 220 vehicles were not inspected by Ukrainian officials or the Red Cross. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry says the humanitarian cargo includes food, generators and water purifiers.
A huge Russian convoy entered Ukrainian territory August 22, carrying food and medical items to the largely ethnic Russian population increasingly cut off from critical supplies during the five month separatist uprising.