KIEV, July 22. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it would ban entry to French lawmakers visiting Russia’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea this week, describing this trip as "an irresponsible step".
"Ukraine will respond to any violations of the established order. Violators will be subject to restrictions prescribed by Ukrainian law, in particular banned from entering Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.
Ukrainian diplomats pointed to the fact that "such trip has not been coordinated with the Ukrainian side", adding that the ministry considered "the French parliamentarians’ visit an irresponsible step, demonstrating their disrespect for Ukraine’s national sovereignty."
A parliamentary delegation from France will arrive for a two-day visit to the Crimean peninsula on July 23. The delegation includes more than 10 members of the French National Assembly and the Senate. During their visit, French lawmakers are expected to meet Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov and chairman of Crimea's State Council Vladimir Konstantinov.
National Assembly deputy Thierry Mariani, who leads the French delegation, told Russian Kommersant newspaper on Tuesday that parliamentarians had not consulted with the Ukrainian authorities before the trip. "French deputies are free to make their own decisions," Mariani said.
Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
In mid-March last year, Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum. More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favour of reuniting with Russia.
Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticised by Western leaders and at the United Nations.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean region, along with Sevastopol, to Ukraine's jurisdiction for purposes of logistics.