Russia has imposed sweeping financial sanctions on 322 members of the Ukrainian elite and 68 companies owned by prominent Ukrainian businessmen.
President Petro Poroshenko, whose son. Oleksiy, is among individuals targeted by the sanctions announced on November 1, likened Russian sanctions to badges of honor for Ukrainians and called on Moscow to return the Crimean Peninsula to Kyiv and withdraw from eastern Ukraine.
The Russian sanctions target a slew of prominent Ukrainians, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has announced plans to run for the Ukrainian presidency in March 2019.
The sanctions will likely serve to increase already high tensions between Russia and Ukraine, both formerly members of the Soviet Union but now bitter rivals.
Ukraine, like the United States and the European Union, has imposed sanctions on Russian businesspeople, companies, and other entities in response to Moscow's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian sanctions were announced in a decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev published on the government's website on November 1.
According to the decree, the goal of the measure is "to counter Ukraine's unfriendly activities toward Russian citizens and entities, and to normalize bilateral relations."
The sanctions include the freezing of assets and property on Russia's territory.
Prominent among Ukrainians sanctioned are:
- Interior Minister Arsen Avakov;
- Security Service chief Vasyl Hrytsak;
- Deputy Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze;
- businessman Viktor Pinchuk;
- former Prime Ministers Yulia Tymoshenko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk;
- the former leader of the ultranationalist Right Sector group, Dmytro Yarosh.
The list also includes:
- the secretary of Ukraine's Council for National Security and Defense, Oleksandr Turchynov;
- Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak;
- Deputy Defense Minister Anatoliy Petrenko;
- the chief of the Ukrainian Army's General Staff, Viktor Muzhenko;
- deputy speaker of the parliament Iryna Herashchenko;
- the veteran leader of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev.
Among those affected are also judges of Ukraine's Constitutional Court, Ukrainian lawmakers, oligarchs, officials of the presidential office, executive officials, and major Ukrainian companies.
At a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Kyiv, Poroshenko brushed aside Russia's move, saying, "In Ukraine to be on this list is like receiving a state award -- this is how it is seen. And it is very disappointing for those who did not get on the list."
"Instead of saber-rattling on the front line and through sanctions, Russia should do one very simple thing: leave Ukraine, pull out its troops, take away its weapons, and restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he told reporters.
Merkel said she was determined to uphold sanctions against Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict.
"Unfortunately...the Minsk accords have not been respected. If we move forward it's only a few millimeters at a time, sometimes we move backwards," she said, referring to the 2014-15 agreements signed in the Belarusian capital aimed at resolving the conflict.
Tymoshenko, who is a lawmaker and the leader of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, said "the Kremlin sanctions do not bother me much."
She wrote on Facebook shortly after Moscow's sanctions were made public that she does not own any businesses either in Ukraine or in Russia.
Yatsenyuk, on his Facebook page, said the list was that of "the real Ukrainian patriots," adding that Ukraine must respond to Moscow’s sanctions by lawsuits in Ukrainian and international courts.
Medvedev's move came 10 days after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree setting the stage for "special economic measures" against Ukraine, instructing the government to draft a list of Ukrainian firms and individuals to be targeted for economic sanctions.
Putin's October 22 decree said punitive measures could be canceled if Ukraine lifts all restrictions it has imposed against Russian citizens and companies.
On October 23, Medvedev said Moscow was preparing sanctions that will also ban imports to Russia of some Ukrainian products. He did not specify which Ukrainian products would be listed under Russia's import ban.
In June, Putin signed a law on countermeasures against the United States and other countries that have sanctions against Russia.