European Union imposes sanctions against Russians involved in capture of Ukrainian sailors

US EU Canada slap sanctions on Russia over aggression against Ukraine

"We call upon Russian Federation to immediately return to Ukraine the seized vessels and detained crewmembers, and keep the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov open to ships transiting to and from Ukrainian ports", added State Department spokesman Robert Palladino in a statement.

Four of the six Russian officials targeted by the measure were involved in the attack near the Kerch Strait attack in November off the coast of Crimea, the Treasury said.

With no end in sight to the current standoff over the Kremlin's aggressive foreign policy posture towards the West, the European Parliament on 12 March overwhelmingly voted to approve a report stating that Russian Federation "can no longer be considered a "strategic partner" and that "the EU cannot envisage a gradual return to "business as usual" until Russian Federation fully implements the Minsk Agreement which lay out a process for achieving peace in eastern Ukraine and restores the territorial integrity of Ukraine", the Parliament said in reference to a 2015 accord that was meant to de-escalate the fighting in the Donbass.

"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 worldwide norms and undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity", he added.

The United States, in coordination with the European Union and Canada, Friday slapped new sanctions on more than a dozen officials and businesses in response to Russia's "continued aggression in Ukraine". Thus, the sanctions were imposed against Head of "Border Unit of Crimean and Sevastopol FSB Rear Admiral Sergey Stankevich, his deputy Andrey Shein, Commander of troops of Southern Military district Alexandr Dvornikov, commanders Alexey Salaev and Andrey Shipitsyn, participating in the seizure of the vessels, commander of anti-submarine warfare ship Suzdalets Sergey Shcherbakov and two heads of the FSB control points Ruslan Romashkin and Alexey Shatokhin".

The Russian navy captured 24 Ukrainian sailors during the clash.

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The US, Canada and the European Union on Friday again pressed for Moscow to release the detained Ukrainian crew.

On 25 November, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov.

"We also call on Russian Federation to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, including its territorial waters".

He added: "We call upon Russian Federation to immediately return to Ukraine the seized vessels and arrested crew members, and keep the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov open to ships transiting to and from Ukrainian ports".

Among them are Russian shipbuilding giant Zelenodolsk, the hydroacoustic equipment producer Okeanpribor, a diesel engine supplier to the Russian military, Zvezda, and an electronic parts supplier to the military, Fiolent.

The Parliament also said the Russian government's continued and active support for anti-EU parties and far-right movements in Europe posed a major security threat to the 28-member bloc, and that the Kremlin continues to order Russia's intelligence services to carry on meddling in political elections and violate the human rights of Russian citizens.

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