BERLIN (Sputnik) – Western sanctions against Moscow, related to Crimea’s reunification with Russia as a result of a referendum, should be lifted as soon as possible, German lawmaker Gunnar Lindemann from the (Alternative for Germany) AfD party told Sputnik on Saturday, which marks the fifth anniversary of the referendum.
"The sanctions damage cooperation with Russia and put jobs in Germany at risk. AfD strongly opposes the sanctions against Russia and Crimea. These sanctions should be lifted as soon as possible", Lindemann argued.
The politician maintained that due to the western sanctions, various humanitarian exchange programs had been abandoned, adding that Crimean residents of German origin were unable to visit their relatives in Germany.
Lindemann also characterized Crimea as "an interesting region for western investment".
The United States, Canada and the European Union on Friday imposed new sanctions against Russian officials and entities over the situation in Ukraine, including over the Kerch Strait incident, in what Washington claims is Moscow's alleged "continued and ongoing" aggression in Ukraine.
On 25 November, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. Russia seized the Ukrainian vessels and detained 24 people on board after they failed to respond to a demand to stop. After the incident, the Russian authorities opened a criminal case on the illegal border crossing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a provocation, noting that there were members of the Ukrainian security service, who were in charge of the operation, on board the Ukrainian vessels.
Crimea rejoined Russia in March 2014 as a result of the vote at which saw over 96 percent of the peninsula’s residents backing the option. The move was, however, opposed by Ukraine and the West, which imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow. The transition followed what many considered to be a coup to topple Ukrainian then-President Viktor Yanukovych. Russia has insisted that the Crimean referendum was carried out in line with international norms.
Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations and reacted with countermeasures against the Western nations that targeted it with sanctions.