Russia has hit back at Canada after March 24 sanctions which saw nine Russian officials banned from Canada over "gross and systematic violations of human rights in Russia" related to the Alexey Navalny saga.
At that time senior Russian officials had been accused over "the attempted murder" of Navalny last August, which saw the anti-Putin activist hospitalized in Berlin. Moscow had vowed it would prepare retaliatory sanctions in return, and that moment has come Monday, with the foreign ministry announcing a ban on precisely nine Canadian citizens from indefinitely entering its territory.
Canada has been among multiple countries, including the US and EU, to level sanctions on Moscow in relation to Navalny, who since his return from Germany to Moscow has been serving a couple year stint at a prison outside the Russian capital stemming from a prior embezzlement case.
Also on Monday Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin had some interesting words testifying before Russia's State Duma (lower house) on Monday.
"The sanctions regime has always been in place. And it will remain so forever, let us be realistic. Sanctions have been enshrined in many legal acts, in the US and other states, and it is impossible to roll them back," the diplomat stated.
"All of them are illegitimate, they were slapped under very shaky pretexts, without any proof, but those facts, which are deemed as committed, cannot be rolled back," Pankin added.
Pankin emphasized that he "would not ask anyone to lift sanctions and would not say sorry for what it is not doing" - which appears a response to the currently hyped accusations of everything from election interference to cyberattacks on US infrastructure to "aggression" in Eastern Ukraine.
On the latter point, the high-ranking diplomat said, "It’s clear that we won’t give up Crimea. If Crimea is part of Russia, we will always be under sanctions like there were sanctions against the Baltic Region until it separated and became three different states. This is a tough idea, but we need to be realistic."