• Kyodo

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Russian Ambassador Evgeny Afanasiev has criticized the United States for imposing sanctions on Moscow and the European Union for threatening to follow suit after Russia sent troops into Ukrainian territory.

“Sanctions are a relic of the Cold War and don’t benefit either side,” Afanasiev said in an interview Friday. “Their moves adversely affect the atmosphere needed for dialogue and constructive cooperation.”

The United States on Thursday imposed its first sanctions on Russia for refusing to negotiate a resolution to the crisis in the southern Ukrainian region of Crimea.

EU leaders have agreed to impose travel bans and asset freezes if Moscow refuses to begin talks with Ukraine soon on reaching a peaceful settlement.

Afanasiev insisted that Russia-Japan relations should not fall victim to the situation in Ukraine.

“I hope Japan understands the importance of its relations with Russia and will take appropriate action,” Afanasiev said, adding that the situation was caused by a coup and the seizure of power by force.

Citing the U.S. incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan, Afanasiev said, “The United States doesn’t have the right to mention compliance with international law or respect for sovereignty.”

But he also called Russia-U.S. relations the most important for global stability, and said the old Cold War adversaries should not let their differences over the Ukrainian problem gravely damage that relationship.

Afanasiev also expressed the belief that Ukraine can overcome its current divisions through dialogue by all political forces, ethnic and religious groups.

Also Saturday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that Tokyo plans to send Shotaro Yachi, a senior official in Japan’s new National Security Council, to Russia this month to promote communication and cooperate in resolving the crisis.

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