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Top EU Court Upholds Sanctions Against Russia's Rosneft

The top European Union court has ruled that EU sanctions imposed on Russian energy giant Rosneft over Moscow's seizure of Crimea and involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine are lawful.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in a statement on March 28 that "restrictive response to the crisis in Ukraine against certain Russian undertakings, including Rosneft, are valid."

The EU imposed sanctions on Russia in July 2014, after it illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and later expanded them in response to Moscow's support for separatists fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

The court said in its ruling that the EU's hindering of state-controlled Rosneft's ability to conduct business was in proportion to the level of economic sanctions placed on Russia.

Rosneft said in a statement that it was disappointed with the decision, saying "the decision proves that the rule of law in Europe is being replaced by the primacy of political situation."

Rosneft lawyer Lode van den Hende called the ruling "a setback for judicial protection in the EU."

Rosneft is headed by Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It became Russia's largest oil producer after acquiring the main production assets of Yukos, which was dismantled and sold off following the arrest of its chief, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in 2003.

Khodorkovsky spent 10 years in prison on two convictions on financial-crimes charges he and supporters say were orchestrated by the Kremlin to punish him for challenging Putin and seize control of Yukos.

The oil and gas company had challenged the EU's restrictions against it, which include its ability to conduct oil deals within the European Union.

The court ruling is seen as establishing its jurisdiction over the EU's common foreign policy, an issue that is being contested by some EU member countries.

With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and AFP
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