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More than three years of coordinated European Union and USA sanctions, however, have not forced a change of hand in Moscow, which vows to never give back Crimea and still supports the armed conflict in east Ukraine which has killed more than 10,000 people. It said Topor-Gilka led negotiations with Siemens to acquire the gas turbines that eventually were illegally diverted to Crimea.

On Friday, the European Union announced sanctions against three Russian nationals, including a deputy minister and a department head of the energy ministry, and three companies, who will face asset freeze and travel ban in the European Union for their responsibility in the allegedly illegal delivery of four gas turbines to Crimea.

In April, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told the Russian Parliament that "work is continuing despite problems related to the delivery of equipment from a Western company".

The fact that electricity turbines produced by Germany's Siemens had been delivered to Crimea, Ukraine's Black Sea Peninsula which was annexed by Russian Federation in 2014, in spite of the bans in the European Union's sanctions against Moscow, was first revealed by media reports in early July. Earlier sanctions by the European body had barred doing business in Crimea.

"The EU has added three Russian nationals and three companies involved in the transfer of gas turbines to Crimea to the list of persons subject to restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence", the EU statement said. The sanctions, consisting of an asset freeze and travel ban, now apply to 153 people and 40 entities, the council said.

Shortly after the announcement of the new sanctions on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the decision and expressed "deep regret" over the move by Brussels, calling the punitive measures "unfriendly, unjustified and unsubstantiated".