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Sanctions against Russia effective - US Treasury Secretary

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the sanctions imposed against Moscow in connection with Ukrainian events have been taking a toll.

Since sanctions have been imposed, "all of the major indicators show Russia's economy heading in a bad direction."

"Their exchange rate is down. The value of the rouble is down. The equity flight is real. The value of the stock exchange is down," Lew said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday, adding that "we're going to keep that pressure on."

The official said the purpose of these steps is "to get President Putin to change Russia's policy."

"We've made clear that if they continue on the path they're on, we will take additional steps," the Treasury Secretary said.

"We have acted to target people in the Russian government, senior executives, CEOs who run some of the largest manufacturing firms in Russia, who are very close to the government," he said. "And we have sanctioned a bank, making it clear that we are prepared to go farther down this path should we need to."

On April 28, the United States announced new sanctions against seven Russian officials and 17 companies in connection with events in Ukraine. These include freeze of assets that can be under Washington's jurisdiction or visa denials.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow would not leave the American and Canadian sanctions against Russian officials and companies without response.

"We definitely don't leave such unfriendly actions without response," Lukashevich said when asked whether Moscow would react to additional sanctions imposed by the United States and Canada on April 28 and to an extension of the sanctions list by Canada on May 4.

"In the past, US visa and financial sanctions imposed under the pretext of the tragic death of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky [in prison] met a fast symmetrical response: American high-ranking officials involved in torture and creation of special prisons [Guantanamo list], as well as persecution of compatriots and adopted children from Russia, were put on the Russian stop-list," he said.

"And when the American side closed entry on March 17 to a number of our officials, including Federal Assembly deputies, for assisting the referendum in Crimea, the response Russian list was made public already March 20. Four days later, reacting to Canada's sanctions twists, we announced similar measures against Ottawa," Lukashevich said.

He said the blacklists had later been extended. "But we did not seek a greater amount nor did we organize a show, unlike Americans and Canadians," he said.

"Sanctions are not our method, but unfriendly actions force us to give a rebuff," Lukashevich said. "The latest sanctions-related 'creative activity' of Washington and Ottawa is not an exception.

[Source: Ria Novosti, New York, 10May14]

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