The Kremlin has censured a recent decision by the European Union to broaden the scope of its anti-Moscow sanctions list over Russia’s delivery of Siemens gas turbines to Crimea, saying the provocative move was “against the international law.”
The Russian Energy Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that "interference in a dispute between two business entities is a direct violation of international legal norms," adding that imposing a ban against Russian Deputy Energy Minister Andrei Cherezov over the issue of turbines was politically motivated and illegal.
Bilateral relations between Russia and the European Union deteriorated after Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula, separated from Ukraine and rejoined the Russian Federation in 2014, following a popular referendum. Kiev and its Western allies, however, call the development as Russia’s annexation of the peninsular region.
Brussels and Washington have since imposed an array of sanctions against Moscow over its alleged role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has been the scene of deadly fighting between Kiev’s army and pro-Russia forces. Moscow denies the allegation.
On Friday, the European Commission added three Russian officials, including Cherezov as well as three companies, to its sanctions blacklist over their alleged role in providing Crimea with Siemens gas turbines. Earlier sanctions by the European body had barred doing business in Crimea.
Siemens, however, says it has evidence that all four turbines it delivered for a project in southern Russia had been illegally moved to Crimea.
The latest wave of sanctions complements a blacklist that already contains 150 people and 37 firms subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban over the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The Commission said the move contributed to the establishment of an independent power supply for Crimea and Sevastopol, which “supports their separation from Ukraine, and undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
The latest sanctions come in response to the delivery of the gas turbines to Crimea in violation of EU bans.
Shortly after the announcement of the new sanctions on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the decision and expressed “deep regret” over the move by Brussels, calling the punitive measures “unfriendly, unjustified and unsubstantiated.” It also vowed that Moscow “reserves the right for retaliatory measures.”
“The responsibility for this decision, including possible expenses for Siemens and other German and European companies working in Russia, lies entirely with the EU's side and the German government,” the ministry’s statement further read.
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, which was initiated by Kiev after it deployed forces to crack down on pro-democracy autonomy-seekers in the Russian-speaking region, has left more than 10,000 people dead since 2014.