MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Russia will respond to the new anti-Russian sanctions introduced by the European Union (EU) against Russian citizens in connection with the incident in the Kerch Strait, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Saturday.
"The pretext for registering our compatriots in the illegitimate EU sanctions lists is strikingly hypocritical and cynical. The issue mainly concerns employees from the border service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation who are courageously performing their duty to protect the state border of our country. Still, the only ‘guilt’ of our border officers is that they suppressed by resolute actions the rude provocation organized in the Kerch Strait area by Kiev’s authorities on November 25, 2018. <…> The Russian side will not leave unanswered the EU’s unfriendly action," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry noted that the Council’s decision shows disrespect for the right of the Russian Federation to provide the protection of its state border. "It is an irresponsible track that just encourages Kiev toward continuing the policy of provocations which threaten the security of the Russian Federation and other states of the Black Sea region, including the member states of the European Union itself," the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
In full conformity with the international law
The ministry pointed out that the Ukrainian naval ships breached the sea border of the Russian Federation in a place which was Russian territory even before Crimea’s reintegration into Russia in March 2014. "The detention of the Ukrainian naval ships and their crews was carried out by our border officers in full conformity with the norms of international law, the constitution and the operating legislation of the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian sailors later publicly admitted the provocative character of the incident that had been organized with their participation," the ministry said.
Moscow regrets that by introducing sanctions the European Union in fact lined up with Kiev’s authorities that turned the November events in the Kerch Strait "upside down." "We can’t but see that the specified decision was made shortly before the presidential election in Ukraine," the ministry noted.
On Friday, the European Union put eight Russian servicemen and members of the Federal Security Service (FSB) on the blacklist over the incident in the Kerch Strait.
The Kerch Strait incident
On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian naval ships breached the Russian state border in the Kerch Strait. The Ukrainian ships did not respond to the legitimate demands coming from the vessels of the FSB Border Service of and the Black Sea Fleet that had pursued them in order to stop them immediately and thwart their dangerous maneuvers. Because of their blatant refusal to submit to the order, gunfire had to be used to stop the intruding Ukrainian ships. The ships were arrested and taken to Kerch. A criminal case was launched into the breach of the Russian state border, and the crews were arrested.