HELSINKI, March 30. /TASS/. Economic sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia affect all countries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Helsinki Monday.
"Russia does not stick to the principle of a common approach," Merkel said. "So we decided to act in a coordinated way and impose economic sanctions, although they affect all countries."
At the same time, she said the EU needs to build its security policy not against Russia but with it.
"When the cold war ended and the Soviet Union stopped existing, we always kept looking on Russia as a partner. We have tried to interact in the economic sphere, we have an interdependence in the sphere of energy supplies. But something has changed when we look at events in Georgia and in eastern Ukraine," Merkel said.
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
New large-scale punitive measures against Russia followed in September and December 2014.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in east Ukraine.
Russia recognized as independent two Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The recognition followed Georgia's attack on South Ossetia that entailed Russia's peacemaking operation in August 2008. Only a few countries besides Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.