Russia says to respond to new EU sanctions over Kerch Strait incident

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Seized Ukrainian military vessels are seen in a port of Kerch, Crimea, on November 26, 2018. (STR/AFP)

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it would respond to the European Union (EU)’s decision to impose new sanctions over the Kerch Strait incident, which shows disrespect for the country’s right to protect its state border.

“This is an irresponsible way, which only encourages Kiev to continue the policy of provocations that poses a threat to the security of Russia and other states of the Black Sea region, including members of the European Union itself,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Russian side will not leave an unfriendly EU action unanswered,” it added.

On Nov. 25, Russia seized three Ukrainian warships near the Kerch Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, accusing them of breaching the Russian border.

Moscow called the incident a provocation, while Kiev denied any wrongdoing and Western countries denounced the “aggressive” actions of Russia.

The foreign ministry said the EU’s allegations that Russia violated international law are “groundless and completely untrue.”

It recalled that the Ukrainian ships conducted dangerous maneuvering and refused to obey the demands of the Russian border guards.

“The detention of Ukrainian warships and their crews was carried out by our border guards in full compliance with the norms of international law, the constitution and the current legislation of the Russian Federation,” the ministry said.

The Ukrainian sailors subsequently publicly recognized the provocative nature of the incident, it added.

The EU’s decision could also be used to attract public attention as it was made shortly before the presidential election in Ukraine slated for March 31, according to the ministry.

The EU has decided to sanction eight Russian nationals for their role in the Kerch Strait incident last November.