Fresh off a deal that saw Ukraine secure $3.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after Kiev agrees to hike gas prices, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko mocked Moscow’s November 1 announcement that the Kremlin had imposed financial sanctions on Ukraine’s political elite by freezing the Russian assets of hundreds of politicians and officials along with dozens of companies owned by Ukrainian businessmen.
“In Ukraine, being on this list is a kind of state award, at least that’s how it is perceived,” Poroshenko said after a high-level meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Kiev. “Those who did not make it to the list are very offended.”
Announced by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the list includes 322 names and 68 Ukrainian companies that are barred 68 companies from doing business in Russia and whose assets have frozen if they physically in the Russian Federation.
Also included on the list of sanctioned individuals were Ukraine’s controversial interior minister, Arsen Avakov, the head of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, Alexander Turchynov, SBU security service head Vasyl Hrytsak, and billionaire oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, whose large donations to US President Donald J. Trump’s campaign has caught the eye of Special Council Robert Mueller is his ongoing investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election.
The Kremlin also named human rights advocate Mustafa Dzhemilev, a leader of the Crimean Tatar community who has been nominated on several occasions for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dzhemilev is a former Soviet dissident who spent years in prison for opposing the Soviet government’s refusal to allow the Turkic-speaking Sunni Muslim Tatars to return to Crimea after being deported en masse to Uzbekistan by Joseph Stalin in 1944.
Dzhemilev and the rest of the Crimean Tatar leadership had already been listed as a extremists and personae non-gratae in their native Crimea for opposing Russia’s illegal annexation of the strategic Black Sea peninsula in March 2014.
Moscow’s announced sanctions are part of the Kremlin’s attempt to counter increasingly harsh Western moves that are aimed at punishing Russia for its aggressive actions against Ukraine.
Russia’s counter-sanctions came only days after the Ukrainian avoided a potential default on its debt when it agreed to an IMF demand that the government raise household gas prices by nearly a quarter.
The new agreement will span 14 months and replaces a previous $17.5 billion aid programme that has helped keep Ukraine’s economy afloat since 2015, the second year of the War in the Donbass that pits Ukraine’s armed forces against local pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatists and regular Russian military personnel.
The war has killed nearly 10,500 people and left more than one million as refugees since fighting began in April 2014.
The new IMF deal is subject to Ukraine passing a 2019 budget in line with the IMF’s requirements and the approval of the IMF’s executive board, which is expected to make a decision on the matter before the end of the year.