MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The extension of sanctions against the Crimean peninsula and the city of Sevastopol is an attempt to ‘punish’ the residents for their choice to rejoin Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
"These restrictions are nothing but an attempt of the European Union to "punish" the residents of the peninsula, who made a free choice in favor of reunification with Russia during a referendum."
Crimea and Sevastopol, which has a special status within the region, became part of Russia on March 21, 2014, after a referendum.
Following the move, the United States, the European Union and their allies accused Moscow of "illegal annexation" and imposed anti-Russian sanctions.
Separate sanctions were also introduced by the European Union against Crimea. The measures included a ban on investment in its economy and restrictive measures targeting Crimean individuals and companies, which were initially valid until June 23, 2015.