The European Union Friday slapped sanctions on Russian officials and firms connected to the illegal transfer of gas turbines to the annexed peninsula of Crimea.
The measures, which include a travel ban and an asset freeze, was the bloc's first reaction to the Siemens case, one of the biggest known breaches of the EU's sanctions on Russia. Germany had pushed for the sanctions to be adopted.
The case involved the transfer of gas turbines to create an independent power supply for Crimea and Sevastopol. The peninsula is largely dependent on Ukrainian energy supplies, a situation the Russian government has pledged to change.
Siemens has said the turbines were supposed to be destined for a power plant in southern Russia, not the Crimea.
"Establishing an independent power supply for Crimea and Sevastopol supports their separation from Ukraine, and undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine," the EU said in a statement. "Gas turbines are a substantial element in the development of new power plants."
The EU, like the U.S., has refused to accept Russia's 2014 annexation of the peninsula, which came alongside Moscow's wider intervention in eastern Ukraine to back pro-Russian separatists.
The EU has placed targeted sanctions on more than 150 mainly Russian officials and 40 entities, imposed broad economic sanctions on Russia and banned a wide range of economic ties with firms in Crimea and Sevastopol.
Friday's sanctions targeted OAO VO Technopromexport, which purchased the turbines as well as the company it transferred the machines to, OOO VO Technopromexport. Also sanctioned was AO Interautomatika, a Siemens joint venture which was contracted to install the turbines in power plants.
Russia's Vice Minister for Energy Andrey Cherezov and another senior ministry official were placed on the EU's blacklist. The bloc also sanctioned Sergei Anatolevich Topor-Gilka, the director general of Technopromexport. He was responsible for leading the negotiations with Siemens, the EU said.
Siemens has sued Technopromexport, a unit of state-owned Rostec State Corp., in Moscow. The legal action aims to stop delivery of other Siemens equipment that might be destined for Crimea and ensure that equipment already dispatched there is returned to Taman, the original destination.
Write to Laurence Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 04, 2017 12:16 ET (16:16 GMT)