YEREVAN, March 18. / ARKA /. Alexander Iskandaryan, head of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute, has questioned today West’s ability to economically isolate Russia by slapping sanctions on it.
"It is impossible to use tough sanctions against Russia and cut it off the rest of the world. Russia is not Iraq or Iran, it is a power of a different dimension," he said to a news conference.
According to him, the West is too dependent on trade with Russia and Russian gas supplies, which can not be replaced quickly with gas supplies from other countries.
He said also that Russia has a decent degree of stability, and in the game for Ukraine, where the stakes are extremely high for Moscow, financial losses do not matter.
Speaking before lawmakers in the Kremlin today, Russian president Vladimir Putin defended the Crimean referendum’s legitimacy, calling it “legal and convincing,” reminding that that 97 percent of Crimeans want to leave Ukraine.
Putin said that he considered Crimea “always” a part of Russia and that the region is “in the people's heart of hearts.”
Hours before his speech, Putin already submitted the legislation to begin the annexation process of Crimea.
“We need to be as strong as ever in future, to rise up to challenges. We will be facing some opposition from the West,” Putin told lawmakers.
The United States and the European Union on Monday announced asset freezes and other sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the Crimean crisis. President Barack Obama warned that more would come if Russia didn't stop interfering in Ukraine.
France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on Europe-1 radio Tuesday leaders of the Group of Eight world powers "decided to suspend Russia's participation and it is envisaged that all the other countries, the seven leading countries, will unite without Russia." -0-