GREGORY L. WHITE
Aug. 5, 2014 11:49 a.m. ET
MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he has ordered his government to prepare retaliatory measures against U.S. and European economic sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, but added any new moves must avoid harming Russian consumers, domestic news agencies reported.
"This must be done very carefully, to support domestic producers but not harm consumers," Interfax quoted him as saying on a visit to the Voronezh region, south of Moscow. He didn't provide more details.
"Political tools of economic pressure are unacceptable, they contradict all norms and rules," he said. "In that connection, the government of Russia has already proposed a series of retaliatory measures against the so-called sanctions of certain countries. I think that in current conditions, with the goal of protecting the interests of domestic producers, we could certainly think about that." he added.
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would formulate its response to European economic sanctions imposed last week that effectively forced the closure of Dobrolet, an airline that was flying to Crimea, the Ukrainian region that Russia annexed in March. Russia's Vedomosti newspaper reported Tuesday that the government was considering a partial or total ban on overflights of Siberia by European airlines, which use the route to shorten trips from Europe to Asia. Government officials declined to comment on the report, however.
In recent weeks, the U.S. and Europe have imposed sanctions on dozens of top Russian officials, businessmen, as well as banks and companies in an effort to get Moscow to cut its support for pro-Russian separatists fighting in Ukraine.
Last week, the U.S. and EU expanded the restrictions to the financial sector, as well as technology for oil drilling and military equipment. Russian officials have vowed to defy the sanctions pressure and retaliate, though they didn't specify how.
In recent days, Russian regulators have banned shipments of some European fruits and vegetables and raised questions about the safety of products from McDonald's Corp.MCD +0.28% in Russia, threatening to ban their sale. Officials deny any political motivation for those moves.
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