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Iran Press TV

Russia expands economic sanctions against Ukraine amid escalating crisis

Iran Press TV

Wed Dec 26, 2018 01:43AM

Russia has expanded its economic sanctions on Ukraine, adding over 250 people and businesses to a blacklist amid escalation of tensions between the two countries after Russian border guards opened fire and captured three Ukrainian naval vessels and their 24-member crew off Crimea late last month.

On Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev announced in a decree published on his official Twitter page that 245 individuals and seven companies, mostly in the energy and defense sectors, were sanctioned by Moscow.

Medvedev said the sanctions were "to defend the interests of the Russian government, businesses and people."

Among those sanctioned on Tuesday were Ukrainian defense, energy, insurance and logistics companies as well as Gennadiy Trukhanov – the mayor of Ukraine's third most populous city of Odessa that lies on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea – and other high-ranking Ukraine officials.

A total of 567 individuals and 75 Ukrainian companies now face Russian economic sanctions.

Medvedev signed a government decree on November 1, introducing special economic measures against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies.

Counter-sanctions included freezing non-cash funds, non-documentary securities and property in Russia and banning transfer of funds outside Russia.

On November 25, Russian warships fired upon the Ukrainian navy ships Berdyansk and Nikopol and the tug boat Yana Kapu, ramming at least one vessel and wounding several crew members.

Ukraine said it was a Russian "act of aggression". Moscow said the ships had illegally entered its waters.

Ukraine says the ships had been trying to pass through the Kerch Strait, which is a waterway with strategic significance and the only access to the Sea of Azov, shared between the two countries.

Moscow has clarified that Russia reserves the right to defend the waters east of Crimea as an integral part of its territory. The Black Sea peninsula in southern Europe rejoined Russia in 2014.

The reunion of Crimea has been a sticking point in the relations between the two countries.

Both Moscow and Kiev accuse each other of harassing each other's shipping in the area.

In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing punitive measures against Ukraine.

In June 2018, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree to expand sanctions on Russian companies and entities. The sanctions would last at least three years and included penalties on Russian lawmakers and top officials.

Washington and its Western allies have also imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia both over the Crimean unification and an armed conflict that erupted in eastern Ukraine when Kiev launched military operations to quell pro-Russia protests there.

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