MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday sternly criticized a bill on Ukraine that passed the U.S. Senate, saying Washington was doing its utmost to “destroy the carcass of cooperation” between the two countries.
Relations between Russia and the United States are at their lowest since the Cold War because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last March, and its support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The West says it has firm evidence that Russia has armed the rebels - an accusation that Moscow rejects - and has, together with the European Union, imposed several rounds of economic sanctions.
The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which was passed in the Senate on Thursday and now heads to the House of Representatives, would direct President Barack Obama to impose additional sanctions on Russia’s defense and oil sectors, and provide for $350 million of military assistance to Ukraine, as well as supporting its defense and energy industries and civil society.
Obama expressed caution on Thursday about the possibility of more sanctions against Russia, saying it could cause divisions between Washington and Europe.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the possible damage to U.S.-Russian relations was comparable to that done by the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which for decades imposed trade restrictions on countries that limited human rights.
“One gets the impression that in Washington, where they cannot abandon outdated phobias, they have taken it upon themselves to turn the clock back,” the ministry said.
Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Kevin Liffey