Relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated due to the situation in Ukraine and around Crimea, which was reunited with Russia after a referendum on the peninsula. Moscow was accused of interfering and sanctions against it were imposed. Russia retaliated, embarking on a course of import substitution. Also, the authorities have repeatedly noted that it is counterproductive to talk with Moscow in the language of sanctions. Russia has repeatedly stressed that it does not participate in the conflict in Ukraine and is not a subject of the Minsk settlement agreements.
Heads of EU Member States agreed to extend sanctions against Russia. The relations between Moscow and West had deteriorated due to the situation in Ukraine. After the referendum, Crimea became part of the Russian Federation. West accused Russia of interference into affairs of Ukraine and implemented sanctions against Moscow. Russia answered and changed the vector of import. Russian authorities stressed that negotiations with Russia from positions of sanctions are unproductive. Russia many times affirmed that it does not participate in the Ukrainian conflict and is not a side in Minsk peace agreements.
Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the war in Ukraine, illegal annexation of Crimea and Western sanctions against Russia.
Crimea is a part of Ukraine, however, it was illegally annexed by Russia. The so-called referendum of March 16, 2014, was illegitimate under international law. No international body recognises it. Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.
The European sanctions against Russia are linked not only to events in Ukraine. I.e., new sanctions were implemented after the poisoning of a prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
Moscow's answer to sanctions, import substitution, was not productive. According to research into the effect of sanctions, the cumulative export loss to Russia during 2014-2018 is estimated at EUR 30 billion (about -0.2% of EU’s GDP in 2018). While these sanctions do affect the EU's economy, the EU-wide impacts of the export losses are estimated at less than 0.2% of total value-added and employment.
From the outset, the EU has supported Ukraine's territorial integrity, condemning the clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces. Already in 2014, it was known that Russian troops are operating on the territory of Ukraine. In 2019 NATO-Ukraine Commission said in a released statement: “We reaffirmed our support to the settlement of the conflict by diplomatic means in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, which need to be fully implemented by all parties; Russia, as a signatory to the Minsk Agreements bears significant responsibility in this regard”. In this statement, Russia also was urged “to cease all political, financial and military support to militant groups and to stop intervening militarily in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and to withdraw troops, equipment, and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine”.
See similar cases: Relations between Russia and Ukraine deteriorated after a coup in Kyiv; Russia is wrongfully being sanctioned as a result of a Ukrainian crisis; EU is punishing Russia with baseless sanctions.