Russia Ukraine
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands guard on a street outside the regional administration building in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk Reuters

Russia has said the latest United States sanctions violate global trade rules and could prompt Moscow to launch legal action against the World Trade Organisation.

Ambassador Gennady Ovechko Russia's permanent representative to the global trade body said Moscow was also concerned by sanctions passed by other WTO members in recent months.

"It looks like we are being forced to seek the protection of our legitimate rights and interests through the WTO mechanisms," said Ovechko.

Along with the European Union, the US has passed increasingly tough measures against a number of individuals and companies with links to the Kremlin.

Washington has passed tighter measures than Europe, including sanctions against Russia's top oil producer Rosneft, its second biggest gas producer Novatek and its third largest bank Gazprombank.

The EU has limited sanctions to restrictions on lending to Russian public projects so far. In the wake of the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over eastern Ukraine, some European leaders have called for tougher measures against the Kremlin.

Western leaders have alleged that the plane was shot down by Moscow-backed militants.

However, the European and Russian economies are closely intertwined, with the EU relying on Russia for around a third of its gas needs.

"We consider all these destructive actions by the U.S. as interference with business operations of the companies which the U.S. authorities are trying to situate in the political context, which they neither belong to nor are in any way part of," Ovechko told the Geneva-based body.

"Thus, the U.S. actions might cause the unfortunate chain of events that would ultimately undermine the credibility of the multilateral trading system," he said.

The American ambassador Michael Punke said the US had carefully considered whether its sanctions complied with WTO rules before they were announced.

"We remain confident that all of these actions are consistent with our WTO obligations," Punke said in an emailed statement, quoted by Reuters.