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Russia hits back over threats of sanctions

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Oligarchs and firms linked to Vladimir Putin’s regime will be hit by the West. Banks face being ejected from the Swift international payments system while energy giants will also be targeted. And Britain could block Russian companies from raising money in the City of London.

But Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said:”Sanctions could be imposed against any legal entities and individuals just for being Russian.”

And warning against a new round of “sanction wars,” he said: “Both the Russian government and our parliament, they won’t be idle when they see such things are happening in the West.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was told to apologise for “anti-Russian” fake news. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused her of “disinformation”.

It followed an interview on Sky News about a possible Russian invasion under the guise of a “false flag”.

She added that, while “false flag” events had been spoken about in the context of Ukraine, this was only in the case of “provocations by the West”.

The Kremlin yesterday announced that military drills in Russian-annexed Crimea had ended and that soldiers were returning to their garrisons.

But the units’ permanent bases are just a few miles from the border.

Moscow also claimed some troops in Belarus have finished their exercises and are heading back.

But Ukrainian military chiefs were yesterday examining a military-style pontoon bridge at the Pripyat River, four miles from the Ukraine border.

Russia’s envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, meanwhile said wars in Europe “rarely start on Wednesdays” and “nor will there be any escalation next week or the week after, or next month”.

Ms Zakharova added: “I’d like to ask if US and British sources of disinformation …could publish the schedule of our upcoming invasions for the year. I’d like to plan my holidays.”

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