Brussels: The European Union called on Friday for more countries to impose sanctions on Russia over Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula two years ago, saying European governments were very worried about Moscow's military build-up in the region.
In a statement issued on the anniversary of Russia's formal absorption of Crimea into Russia, the EU also said it will maintain its sanctions that ban European companies from investing in Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration.
"The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures," the European Council, which represents EU governments, said in a statement. "The EU calls again on UN member states to consider similar non-recognition measures."
The United States, Europe, Japan and other major economies including Australia and Canada have imposed sanctions on Russia over Crimea, but others including China and Brazil have avoided direct criticism of Russia.
The European Union imposed its Crimea sanctions in July 2014 and then tightened them in December 2014, banning EU citizens from buying or financing companies in Crimea, whose annexation has prompted the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War.
NATO and the EU are concerned by Russia's military build-up in Crimea, which they say is part a Russian strategy to set up defensive zones of influence, so-called anti-access area denial, with surface-to-air missile batteries and anti-ship missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Crimea on Friday, Russian news agencies quoted the Kremlin as saying on Thursday....