Russia’s Crimean chiefs handed fresh US sanctions
The US and Canada have imposed sanctions against eight people and a railway company for violating Ukrainian sovereignty over their involvement in the US$4-billion, 19km Kerch Bridge linking illegally occupied Crimea to Russia.
The prime minister of the “Republic of Crimea”, Yuri Gotsanyuk, and senior Sevastopol figures on the peninsula seized from Ukraine in 2014 face new sanctions. The train operator, Grand Service Express, and its chief executive, Alexander Ganov, are also on the list.
The sanctions were in retaliation for the holding of a municipal election in Crimea last year without Ukraine’s authorisation, the Treasury said.
This undermined democratic processes and institutions, while threatening security and peace, the US said.
“Treasury’s action, taken in close coordination with our international allies and partners, reiterates our unwavering support for restoring free and fair democratic political processes in Crimea,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The European Union this week passed similar measures against seven Russian chiefs in Crimea.
Those targeted by the US include the election commissioners, the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, the acting governor of Sevastopol and chairman of the Legislative Assembly.
There are now EU asset freezes and travel bans against 177 people and 44 organisations over the annexation of Crimea and Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.
The EU has banned imports of non-Ukrainian goods from Crimea or Sevastopol and outlawed European investment. European cruise ships are not allowed to dock in Crimea unless in an emergency.
Until the Kerch bridge was built, Russia had to rely on sea and air travel to supply Crimea, which it invaded in February 2014 before annexing it through a referendum rejected by the UN as invalid.
Canada, which has targeted more than 430 individuals and organisations, said its support for Ukraine was “unwavering”.
“The coordinated US, EU and Canadian designations limit the ability of these illegitimate officials to do business internationally and highlights the strength of the transatlantic alliance in standing up to Russia’s continued aggression,” Mnuchin said.
The US sanctions freeze all property and interests in property belonging to the individuals and organisations, and prohibit US citizens from transacting with them.
The Russian embassy in Washington condemned the sanctions, saying they would worsen fraying bilateral relations.
“Washington still believes it can by means of restrictive measures undermine the positive changes occurring in Crimea after the reunification with Russia,” the embassy stated. “They can’t reconcile with the success of the Russian authorities with the comprehensive development of the region.”
Washington was misrepresenting Russia’s strengthening of the government in Crimea, the statement said.
“We would like to remind our colleagues that restrictions will not change Russia’s policy,” it added.
The Kerch Bridge opening ceremony. Picture credit: Kremlin