The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 against the subsequent accession of Crimea to Russia and the armed conflict in Donbas.
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.
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.
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.