US has 'more tools' against Russia other than sanctions: Lew
Iran Press TV
Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:19PM
The United States has "more tools" other than economic sanctions to ratchet up pressure on Russia, says Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
'I think we have seen that the sanctions work to create real stress in the economy. We have more tools. I am not today going to enumerate what the tools are but we have more tools,' Lew told a news conference in Brussels on Monday.
Lew said that Washington sought a "diplomatic resolution" to the crisis in Ukraine, but added, 'We have to be prepared to do more if Russia does not take that path.'
The Treasury secretary said the US and its European allies had set up the most "sophisticated" network of financial sanctions ever designed against Moscow, which was having "maximum impact" on the Russian economy.
US President Barack Obama blamed Russia Sunday for the "latest break" in the Ukrainian ceasefire and vowed to increase pressure on Moscow.
At least 30 people were killed and more than 80 others were injured on Saturday in rocket attacks targeting a market and apartment buildings in Eastern Ukraine.
'We are deeply concerned about the latest break in the cease-fire and the aggression that these separatists, with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops, are conducting,' he said.
The US and its allies accuse Moscow of sending troops into eastern Ukraine in support of the pro-Russian forces. Moscow has long denied any involvement in Ukraine's conflict.
Kiev trying to 'derail the peace process'
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pushed back against the accusation, saying the West was stirring up hysteria in order to extend economic sanctions against Russia. He accused the Kiev government of "attempts to derail the peace process."
President Vladimir Putin also said that Kiev was not genuinely interested in a peaceful resolution to the conflict and was using the ceasefire to regroup its forces.
"Unfortunately official Kiev authorities refuse to follow the path of a peaceful solution. They don't want to resolve [the crisis] using political tools," Putin said.
Sanctions leading US-Russia to 'brink of war'
Further financial sanctions by the United States against Russia would lead Moscow and Washington to the "brink of war," the head of a leading Russian bank warned last week.
Andrei Kostin, the chairman of Russian state-controlled VTB Bank, said that ties between the US and Russia will be severed if Russian banks were excluded from the Swift banking system due to tougher sanctions.
"Ambassadors can leave capitals. It means Russia and America might have no relationship after that," Kostin said at the World Economic Forum on Friday.
EU foreign ministers will discuss the crisis in Ukraine at an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
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