Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on the EU decision concerning Russian citizens

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on the EU decision to introduce personal sanctions in response to the incident in the Kerch strait

On 15 March 2019 the Council of the European Union adopted unilateral restrictive measures against a number of Russian citizens.

The pretext for including our compatriots in the illegitimate EU sanctions list is striking in hypocrisy and cynicism. The decision targets mainly members of the Border Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation who are valiantly performing their duty of protecting the frontiers of our country. Meanwhile the only “fault” of our border guards is that they took resolute action to terminate a flagrant provocation perpetrated by the Kiev authorities in the area of the Kerch strait on 25 November 2018.

EU allegations regarding “violations of international law by Russia” and the “use of military force with no justification” are completely false. On that day three Ukrainian Navy ships with Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) personnel on board are known to have attempted breaking through from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov in breach of the rules of peaceful passage in Russian territorial waters. They executed hazardous manoeuvres which endangered regular marine traffic and roundly refused to abide by the demands of Russian border guards. Notably, the violation of the state border of the Russian Federation occurred at a location that had been part of Russian territory even before the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March 2014. Ukrainian naval ships and their crews were detained by our border guards in full compliance with the norms of international law, the Constitution and current legislation of the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian sailors subsequently publicly admitted the provocative nature of the incident with their participation.

Regretfully, the European Union has de facto chosen to side with the Ukrainian authorities that have put the chain of events in the Kerch strait last November on its head. We cannot help but notice that this decision comes ahead of the presidential elections in Ukraine.

The decision of the Council of the European Union demonstrates lack of respect for the right of the Russian Federation to ensure protection of its state border. This irresponsible approach merely encourages Kiev to further pursue its policy of provocation that poses a threat to the security of the Russian Federation and other countries of the Black Sea region, including Member States of the European Union itself.

The Russian side will not leave this unfriendly act by the EU without response.