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Lifting sanctions is noteworthy, but Russia does not plan to be first to do it — Kremlin

The idea of lifting mutual restrictions between Russia and Western countries in the context of the spread of coronavirus is noteworthy, but the solution to this issue does not depend on Moscow, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

“The very idea of [lifting mutual sanctions], of course, is noteworthy. Now that we have faced such a tense moment in terms of the international economic situation, the situation related to prices of energy carriers, with such a provocative trigger in the form of coronavirus, of course, such restrictions only aggravate the situation,” he said.

The Kremlin official stressed that “everything here depends on well-known capitals.”

“I don’t know if any preparations for such unilateral steps are made and I don’t know that this is considered appropriate either,” Peskov said in response to a question whether Moscow could be the first to cancel counter-sanctions.

He also stressed that it is not the sanctions that should have been approved by the UN Security Council that are currently applied to Russia but a large number of sanctions and trade restrictions the US and EU countries resort to and that are illegal from the point of view of international law.

Earlier, Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev voiced an opinion that, amid the coronavirus and currency fluctuations, there is a need for the total lifting of any economic sanctions. On March 18, he wrote on Facebook about the need for a “global agreement on a one-time and total lifting of any economic sanctions other than those imposed by the UN Security Council.” The senator suggested that such an agreement could be “initiated by the BRICS states, upheld by the G20 countries and then certified by the UN Security Council.”

A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV) was reported in Central China in late December 2019. Cases of the new coronavirus have also been reported in more than 190 countries and territories, including Russia, which by now has 438 cases. The World Health Organization says that the novel coronavirus cases across the globe have exceeded 300,000, with more than 14,000 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially described the situation with the novel coronavirus as a pandemic. In order to keep the citizens updated on the coronavirus developments in Russia, the government has launched an internet hotline.

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