MOSCOW — Kremlin officials reacted furiously Monday to the European Union’s extension of sanctions on Russia through January, calling the measure self-defeating and accusing the West of crass anti-Russian bias by timing the decision to the nation’s commemoration of the Soviet victims of World War II.
The Russian government said it would retaliate with an extension of countersanctions in response to the decision by European Union foreign ministers, at a meeting in Luxembourg, which had been widely expected after European ambassadors reached a tentative agreement last week in Brussels. Russia had lobbied against the renewal of sanctions, which were first imposed in July 2014 in response to the Kremlin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.
Russia has tried not to flinch in the face of the sanctions, which have severely restricted the access of major Russian corporations to Western capital markets, among other punitive measures, but the country’s economy has suffered and continues to contract. Lower prices for oil delivered a concurrent blow, deepening the recession.In perhaps the most emotional in a barrage of responses by the Russian government on Monday, Sergei Ivanov, the chief of staff to President Vladimir V. Putin, accused the European Union of deliberately announcing the extension on June 22, to coincide with the Day of Memory and Sorrow, when Russia honors the victims of World War II.