Russia talks tough on fresh western sanctions
The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow will respond to fresh sanctions by the European Union, United States and Canada, imposed to punish Russia for its attack last year on three Ukrainian naval vessels as well as its 2014 seizure of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine.
Russia criticised western “hypocrisy” and vowed to respond to the “unfriendly” move.
“The pretext for including our countrymen in the illegitimate sanctions list of the EU astounds with hypocrisy and cynicism,” the foreign ministry said.
It earlier said Moscow “will not leave the unfriendly act of the EU without a response” and accused Europe of siding with Ukraine of its March 31 presidential election.
“It cannot be ignored that the decision came not long before the presidential election in Ukraine,” the ministry said.
“The decision of the [European] Council shows disrespect for the Russian Federation’s right to ensure protection of its state border,” the Foreign Ministry said, according to the state media.
Russia captured the three ships and 24 crew in November near the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
The Kremlin said the boats illegally entered Russian territorial waters near Crimea, while Ukraine refuses to agree that it should ask permission to use the Kerch Strait.
Ukraine and most UN member states do not recognise the Crimean annexation.
The EU measures target eight Russian officers for their involvement in the November incident with the bloc’s sanctions list now including 170 individuals and 44 organisations.
“Today’s action targets individuals and entities playing a role in Russia’s unjustified attacks on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait, the purported annexation of Crimea, and backing of illegitimate separatist government elections in eastern Ukraine,” the US Treasury said.
Six Russian defence companies, accused of misappropriating Ukrainian state assets to provide services to the Russian military during the 2014 occupation, and two Russian energy and construction businesses operating in Crimea were targeted.
Four of the six Russian officers affected by the sanctions were involved in the attack near the Kerch Strait in November, the US said.
“The United States and our trans-Atlantic partners will not allow Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine to go unchecked,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“This joint initiative with our partners in the European Union and Canada reinforces our shared commitment to impose targeted and meaningful sanctions in response to the Kremlin’s attempts to disregard international norms and undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
The Kerch Strait: Picture credit: Wikimedia