(QHA) -

Europe’s refusal to grant residents of Crimea visas is nothing but “collective punishment,” and breaches Crimeans’ freedom of movement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The European Union has closed the consulates and visa centers of EU members on the peninsula, accepting documents for visas only in the offices located on the territory of Ukraine, showing their policy of non recognizing Crimea's March 2014 unification with Russia.

“We believe that this is, in fact, unjustified collective punishment of the population of the peninsula, whose fate the European Union claims to be concerned about,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

The European Union, by creating obstacles for Crimeans to receive visas, is deliberately perusing a policy of de facto restricting the peninsula’s residents’ freedom of movement,” according to the spokesman.

International community has declared Crimea’s unification with Russia illegitimate imposing economical sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials and businesses. Russia has responded with sanctions against a number of countries, including a total ban on food imports from the EU, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia. Both these sanctions applied to Russia and Russia's import bans in response have contributed to the collapse of the ruble.

QHA