China decries Russia sanctions as ‘illegal’; urges parties to show restraint

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Press TV: China has denounced sanctions imposed by the Western countries against Russia over the military operation in Ukraine as “illegal”, blaming Washington for escalating tensions between the two former Soviet neighbors.

“The United States has been sending weapons to Ukraine, heightening tensions, creating panic and even hyping up the possibility of warfare,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told reporters during a briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

“In stark contrast, China has all along called on all parties to respect and attach importance to each other’s legitimate security concerns, strive to resolve issues through negotiation and consultation, and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” she added.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman voiced her country’s strong opposition to sanctions imposed by the United States, Australia and other Western governments against Russia.

“We consistently oppose all illegal unilateral sanctions,” she said, adding that the US sanctions against various countries had increased 10 times over the past 20 years, proving ineffective.

Zhang Jun, Chinese ambassador to the UN, also called on the parties involved in the Ukraine crisis to exercise restraint and avoid escalating the situation any further.

“China believes that the door to a peaceful solution to the Ukraine issue has not been completely closed and should not be closed. At present, to avoid intensifying conflicts, China will continue to promote peace and talks in its own way,” Zhang was quoted as saying by Chinese state media.

Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” aimed at “demilitarization” of the restive Donetsk and Lugansk regions, known as Donbas.

The regions broke away from Ukraine in 2014 after refusing to recognize a West-backed Ukrainian government that had overthrown a democratically-elected, pro-Moscow administration.

Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for the “toughest sanctions possible” as Russian forces made rapid advances towards Kiev, with reports saying 137 Ukrainians, both military personnel and civilians, had been killed since the attack began, and 316 more were wounded.

“We have the capacity. We have the will. This is our land, our people. And we stand for the right cause,” Kuleba said in an interview with Fox News channel on Thursday

The European Union agreed on Thursday to freeze Russian assets in the bloc and halt its banks’ access to European financial markets as part of what EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described as “the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented.”

Kremlin: Russia to impose retaliatory sanctions on West

The Kremlin announced on Friday that Russia will impose retaliatory sanctions on Western nations on the basis of reciprocity.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Western sanctions would cause problems for Russia but they would be solvable as Moscow had reduced its dependence on foreign imports.

Peskov declined to comment on how long Russia’s military actions in Ukraine would last and said que

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