Bridge Crimea
© Nikolay Gyngazov / Global Look Press
Bridge connecting Crimea to Russian mainland
Washington is to impose new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities operating in Crimea, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker announced. Russian officials brushed the news aside.

Volker, who spoke to journalists at a conference in Belgium, said the latest round of Crimea sanctions, which is to be officially unveiled later on Thursday, will punish those involved in "Russia's attempts to integrate" the formerly Ukrainian region. Crimea voted in a referendum in 2014 to break up from Ukraine and rejoin Russia after a US-backed armed coup in Kiev deposed Ukraine's elected government.

Russia's response to the latest round of sanctions will mirror the US move in political terms and would be measured in economic sphere to ensure that the retaliation does not hurt Russia's interests, remarked Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the Russian Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee.

Fellow Senator Oleg Morozov said the US sanctions have long been a sort of "political revenge" against Russia for undermining American influence, and have little to do with what actually happens in Crimea. He believes the US imposes new sanctions as a demonstration of force.

"The sanctions do not change our position on either Crimea or Donbas," he said, referring to the eastern part of Ukraine, where a popular uprising similarly opposing the people, who seized power in Kiev, led to a four-year-long military crackdown by Ukraine. "Crimea is Russia. Donbass will get a political settlement based on the Minsk Agreement," he said.

The Minsk Agreement is a roadmap to peace and eventual reintegration for the rebellious regions signed in the Belarus capital. Russia says Ukraine has repeatedly failed to do its part of the deal, like passing a general amnesty to rebel fighters or amending election laws to address their concerns. Ukraine has accused Russia of not encouraging rebels to let Ukrainian troops in and take control of the border - a move that is supposed to be the last leg of the plan.

The list released later by the US Treasury included three individuals and nine entities. Among those were four resorts, a Crimean utility, and the security agency of one of the two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.

Mriya Resort
© Sputnik / Aleksey Malgavko
A birds-eye view of the 5-star 'Mriya Resort & Spa' hotel in Russia's Crimea.
Following the announcement of the new batch of sanctions, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov mocked the US move by saying that the newly-imposed restrictions "are so insignificant, baseless and impotent in their nature" that Moscow would not even bother analyzing them. He also said that any attempts to influence Russia by imposing sanctions against it are "doomed to fail," TASS reports.