The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has ruled that financial institutions in the country will not be allowed to handle new Russian banknotes that feature landmarks from annexed Crimea.

From Tuesday onwards, notes using images of “maps, symbols, buildings, monuments, archaeological or historical artefacts and landscapes” located on Ukrainian land occupied by Russia will be banned.

The 200-rouble ($3.50) green-tinged note unveiled last week by Russian central bank chief Elvira Nabiullina features two scenes from the Crimean port of Sevastopol as well as the nearby ruins of the ancient city of Chersonesus.

The decision to use images of Crimea on the tender “reflects the desire of the people of Russia to see these symbols on notes,” who voted for the design in a nationwide online poll, Nabiullina said.

She added that the new images “will not harm the position of the ruble in any way.”

Tense relations

Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been fraught for the past three years.

Armed hostilities and violence are ongoing with more than 10,000 lives lost as a result of the conflict.

Russia seized the majority Russian-speaking Crimea from Ukraine on March 16, 2014 after an uprising ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian president from power.

In his annexation speech, Russian president Vladimir Putin called Sevastopol a “legendary city”, making reference to the battles waged during the Crimean War in the 19th century and the Second World War.

Sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) on Russia for violating international law have been active since Russia’s military takeover of Ukraine.

The restrictions are due to remain in place until June 2018, when a decision will be made on whether to further extend or toughen them.

However, Russian officials insist that Crimea’s 2m people voiced their desire to join Russia in a democratic vote in 2014.

The last time Russia’s central bank issued new banknotes was in 2006.