The European Union added seven Russian-backed officials in Crimea to its sanctions blacklist on Tuesday for organising local elections in the peninsula last year.
The decision came after Cyprus came on board, as any EU move on sanctions requires unanimity. Nicosia had stalled the process in recent weeks, diplomats said, trying to push the bloc towards separate sanctions against Turkey for hydrocarbons drilling in eastern Mediterranean.
The EU has maintained sanctions against Russia since Moscow seized and annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. They include a blacklist of firms and individuals associated with Russia’s administration of Crimea.
The seven people added to the blacklist on Tuesday include Yuri Gotsanyuk, named prime minister of Crimea’s pro-Russian regional government after the 2019 election.
Tuesday’s move raises the number of individuals on the blacklist to 177, along with 44 firms or other entities. Blacklisted people and firms have their assets in the EU frozen and individuals are barred from travel there.
The bloc’s main economic sanctions targeting Russia’s energy, financial and arms industries are currently in place until the end of July, while a ban on doing business with Crimea holds until the end of June.