The European Council has announced sanctions against eight individuals who are “responsible for enforcing Russian law” in occupied Crimea in a move that comes as senior EU officials travel to Kyiv for a major EU-Ukraine summit.
The additions bring the total number of individuals hit with punishments over Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula to 185, along with 48 companies or other legal entities.
It said the eight, who will be publicly named later in an official journal, include “judges, prosecutors, and security officers.”
“Those individuals have taken biased decisions in politically-motivated cases, and prosecuted or oppressed opponents of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol,” the council said in a statement.
There have been multiple rounds of EU and other Western sanctions since March 2014, when Russia held a widely criticized referendum in occupied Crimea and quickly annexed it.
The European Council stressed its consistent stance that it does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which is still regarded by overwhelming UN vote to be Ukrainian territory.
Rights watchdogs have accused Russia and its occupation authorities of a massive crackdown on opponents of Russian rule in Crimea — including from the Crimean Tatar community.
Kyiv has battled Moscow-backed separatists in other parts of eastern Ukraine ever since in a low-intensity war that has killed more than 13,200 people since 2014.
EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service on the eve of the October 12 EU-Ukraine summit that the bloc and its partners would “continue to speak up and hold the Russian government accountable when violating international law and failing to adhere to its international obligations and commitments.”
He warned that Brussels expected Russia’s leadership to show “a more constructive engagement and political commitment and stop action against the EU and its member states, as well as against third countries.”
“We remain firm in our commitments to strengthening the international rules-based order,” he said.
Russia has denied despite overwhelming evidence of the presence of Russian troops that it is a party to the fighting in eastern Ukraine.