(Adds U.S. Trade Representative spokesman's comment, paragraph
MOSCOW, June 20 Russia has filed a complaint
with the World Trade Organisation against the United States for
imposing sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.
Moscow had already told Washington it considered the
sanctions, imposed in response to Russia's annexation of
Ukraine's Crimea and its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, to
be illegal under WTO rules.
"When the United States imposed sanctions against Russia,
which had a negative impact on our foreign trade, we decided to
challenge these sanctions in the World Trade Organisation,"
Medvedev told a law conference in Russia's northern city of St
"We've sent a communique to the World Trade Organisation."
Washington and the European Union have imposed sanctions on
several Russian and Ukrainian individuals, but Washington has
also targeted a number of Russian firms and banks it says are
linked to President Vladimir Putin or his close associates.
In particular, it accuses Russia of backing armed
separatists fighting the government in eastern
A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative said the
United States took its obligations under the WTO very seriously.
"Prior to instituting the sanctions against the Russian
Federation, the United States carefully considered their
consistency with WTO rules," he said.
But Medvedev said the sanctions violated WTO rules, arguing
that banning service providers from another country constituted
an infringement of the 'most favoured nation' status that WTO
members accord each other.
Although it joined the WTO less than two years ago, Russia
has already become embroiled in trade disputes with the European
Union and Japan. A flurry of Russian threats and warnings
suggest that more cases could soon follow.
He said challenging the United States may not be easy.
"The U.S. has both doctrinal and practical authority in the
World Trade Organisation," he said. "The state is a leader in
the raising of trade disputes with the WTO."
He also suggested that disputes between Russian and Ukraine
companies could be solved in an arbitration court.
National security can be used as an argument to claim
exemptions from WTO rules. The United States invoked national
security as a member of the WTO's predecessor organisation to
justify its economic embargo on Cuba.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Additional reporting by Krista
Hughes in Washington; Editing by Tom Heneghan and Grant McCool)