The European Union (EU) hit eight Russian officials with sanctions on Friday for their role in naval clashes with Ukraine late 2018.
In November, Russia’s coastguard opened fire on and captured Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 crew members in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Tensions have been high in the region since Russia’s 2014 takeover of Crimea.
“This is a strong answer to the unjustified use of force by the Russian Federation and a demonstration of continued transatlantic unity,’’ said EU Foreign Policy spokesperson Maja Kocijancic.
Kocijancic noted that the U.S. and Canada had taken similar decisions.
The sanctioned individuals include two senior Russian security service officials responsible for Crimea, three officers in command of border patrol boats and an anti-submarine ship, as well as a Russian armed forces commander in the region.
They are all subject to EU entry bans and asset freezes.
Relations between Ukraine and neighbouring Russia have plummeted since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014, while also supporting separatist groups battling the Ukrainian military in the east of the country.
The EU has now imposed asset freezes and EU travel bans on 170 people and 44 entities for actions undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.
In addition, the bloc has hit Russia with economic sanctions targeting its financial, energy and defense industries, as well as impeding banks’ access to EU markets and limiting certain EU imports.
These measures also include a ban on arms trade.