15 Sep 2017 13:17

Aksyonov sees EU anti-Russian sanctions as element of hybrid war

SIMFEROPOL. Sept 15 (Interfax) - The prolongation by the Council of the European Union of the sanctions on legal entities and private individuals in Russia is an attempt to punish residents of Crimea for their choice in the referendum, after which the peninsula was re-united with Russia, Sergei Aksyonov, the head of Crimea, said.

"The EU is using sanctions to punish the people of Crimea for the free choice they made in March 2014. It's an unfair, stupid, and destructive policy, which in the end harms Europe itself and undermines trust in European institutions," Aksyonov said in a statement on his Facebook page on Friday.

The countries that imposed sanctions against Russia, specifically, Crimea, did not condemn the water and power blockade of the peninsula by Kyiv, and that means they approved of it, he said. "Essentially, it [the blockade] is an act of state terrorism. Additionally, we did not hear words of condemnation or even concerns about sabotage groups being sent to our territory to carry out terrorist attacks. That is, we have a consistent policy targeted specifically against the people of our peninsula, against all people of Crimea," the statement said.

The sanctions are "part of this criminal policy, an element of the hybrid war unleashed against Russia and Crimea," it said.

Aksyonov believes the only effective response to sanctions pressure is "the strengthening of the unity of the peoples of Russia based on common goals and values, the use of our own forces, the further increase of the country's defense and economic potential."

On the other hand, he said he believes it is important to communicate to the Western public "the truth about Russian Crimea, primarily using people's diplomacy."

"I am confident that sooner or later, Europe will understand that the policies of pressure and sanctions have no prospects. Such approach doesn't work with Russia," the statement said.

The decision made earlier by the Council of the European Union on a six-month prolongation, through March 15, 2018, of the individual sanctions against people and organizations that the European Union regards as "undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine" was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Friday. The current list includes 149 people and 38 legal entities.