WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States, Canada and European Union imposed sweeping sanctions on Friday over Russia’s actions against Ukraine, including its 2018 attack on Ukrainian ships, annexation of Crimea and activities in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. Treasury said it targeted four members of Russia’s Federal Security Services for their involvement in the naval clash in the Kerch Strait linking the Black and Avov seas near Crimea, the U.S. Treasury said in a statement.
Canada imposed sanctions on 114 people and 15 entities in response to Russia’s military action against the Ukrainian ships, while the European Union sanctioned eight more Russians over the stand-off. The EU said its sanctions affected senior security service officials and military commanders accused of preventing Ukrainian ships from reaching port.
“The United States and our transatlantic 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 added.
The U.S. Treasury sanctions also target six Russian defense firms operating in Crimea, the statement said, “several of which misappropriated Ukrainian state assets to provide services to the Russian military” during its 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The Treasury also imposed sanctions on two Ukrainian separatists for backing “illegitimate separatist government elections” in eastern Ukraine, Treasury said.
Last November, the Russian navy captured 24 Ukrainian sailors and their vessels in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black and Azov seas.
The United States, Canada and the European Union again pressed for Moscow to release the sailors.
“Canada and its allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia’s provocations in the Kerch Strait and its illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Crimea will not go unchecked,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
The U.S. State Department called Russia’s attack a dangerous escalation and violation of international law.
“The message to Russia is clear – the international community will not stand by while Russia continues to violate international norms and laws and the Transatlantic community stands united in our efforts to counter Russian aggression,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said.
Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler