RUSSIA THREATENS ASTRONAUTS OVER SANCTIONS…

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wave_1As the situation on the ground descended further into chaos, the war of words between Moscow and the West continued, with Russia saying the United States was resorting to “Iron Curtain” policies with its new sanctions unveiled on Monday.

“Sanctions are always a boomerang which come back and painfully hit those who launch them,” said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, according to the Interfax news agency on a visit to Crimea, which Russia annexed in March.

On a visit to Russia’s Cold War ally Cuba, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sanctions lacked “all common sense”.

US moves to restrict high-tech exports to Russia appeared to cause particular fury, with Rogozin warning Washington was “exposing their astronauts on the ISS”.

The International Space Station is operated jointly by Russia, the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada.

Astronauts and cosmonauts depend on Russian Soyuz rockets to ferry them between it and Earth, ever since NASA scrapped its space shuttles in 2011.

A Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said in an interview with online newspaper Gazeta.ru that the US curb on high-tech exports was a “blow”.

“This is a revival of a system created in 1949 when Western countries essentially lowered an ‘Iron Curtain’, cutting off supplies of high-tech goods to the USSR and other countries,” he said.

Moscow also lashed out at the European Union for “doing Washington’s bidding” as the bloc included General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces and the country’s deputy defence minister, on a list of 15 Russians and Ukrainians targeted by an asset freeze and travel ban.

And it vowed that Japan’s decision to deny visas for 23 Russian nationals “will not be left without a response”.

The EU and Japanese blacklists are part of a G7 sanctions assault started by Washington on Monday with measures announced against seven Russian officials and 17 companies close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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