New Crimea sanctions are ‘pointless ritual display of EU solidarity’ – Russian Foreign Ministry

New Crimea sanctions are ‘pointless ritual display of EU solidarity’ – Russian Foreign Ministry
Moscow has hit out at the decision by the EU Council to impose sanctions on five officials for helping to stage the Russian presidential elections in Crimea in March.

“We believe the European Union itself has long realized the futility of anti-Russian sanctions, which have long turned into ritual displays of EU solidarity,” said Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova during a press briefing in Moscow on Monday. “Their only practical outcome is the accumulation of irritants, which prevent fruitful dialogue between Moscow and Brussels.”

The five election commission officials have been subjected to an asset freeze and travel restrictions for “threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.” Earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin boasted on Twitter that Kiev “promised and suggested” the sanctions to the European Union, which enforced them.

Zakharova said that Brussels’ decision showed “its true attitude to the interests and feelings of the people of Crimea,” who voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in 2014.

“Forgetting about the principles of law and democracy, Brussels keeps systematically punishing those responsible for helping to express the will of the people on the peninsula,“ said the Moscow official. “What must rankle EU officials are the positive changes in Crimea since 2014, particularly in contrast with neighboring Ukraine.”

Over 100 Russian individuals have been placed on EU sanction lists since the first round of measures was approved by European officials four years ago. The sanctions have been repeatedly extended and also include broader measures that stop Russian companies from participating in certain sectors of the European economy or receiving financing.

READ MORE: Almost 80 percent of Russians say they are not affected by Western sanctions

On Monday, the Russian parliament introduced a bill that would punish those aiding compliance with Western sanctions with a prison term of up to four years.

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