Ukraine said on Friday it was banning a new Russian banknote showing an image of the Crimean peninsula that the Kremlin annexed in 2014.
The announcement came one day after Moscow unveiled a new note worth 200 rubles ($3.50) featuring a naval memorial in the city of Sevastopol — the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet — and UNESCO-protected Greek and Roman ruins at nearby Chersonesus.
The green design also includes the scenic peninsula’s map.
The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) said the ban covered all Russian currencies showing “maps, symbols, buildings, monuments” and other objects “based in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia”.
The ban will go into effect next Tuesday.
Russia on Thursday presented two new notes — the second one worth 2,000 rubles — whose images were chosen after a national competition held last year.
Central Bank of Russia chief Elvira Nabiullina insisted the new images would “not harm the position of the ruble in any way.”
But Kiev’s response means the 200-ruble note will not be converted into local currency by Russians who travel to Ukraine.
Russia’s decision to put Crimea in the nation’s wallets capitalises on the wave of patriotism prompted by the peninsula’s annexation in March 2014.
Kiev views Crimea’s annexation and an insurgency that broke out in its eastern industrial regions in April 2014 as Moscow’s retribution for Ukraine’s decision to pull out of Russia’s historic orbit.
– Ukrainian pride –
Ukraine’s currency war with Russia is the latest front to open between two neighbours that view each other as arch-foes.
The NBU decision comes a day before Ukraine marks a new military holiday that Kiev introduced in 2014 to specifically disassociate itself from a Russian one observed on February 23.
Saturday’s Defenders of Ukraine Day is expected to be accompanied by a nationalist rally in Kiev that will be replete with anti-Russian motifs.
President Petro Poroshenko told the nation on Friday that Ukraine — then part of the Soviet Union — had survived the horrors of World War II and was strong enough to defend its “independence” from Russia.
“Today, at the vanguard of the Ukrainian people’s fight for independence stand the armed forces of Ukraine and other military units,” Poroshenko said in televised remarks.
Poroshenko has also signed a controversial language bill that has sparked a standoff with Romania and other east European states that have large ethnic minorities in western Ukraine.
The law requires students to be taught exclusively in Ukrainian from the fifth grade onwards.
It enters into force in September 2020 and allows classes in regions with large ethnic minorities to teach native languages as a separate subject.
But ethnic Russians account for Ukraine’s biggest minority and the language issue has further inflamed Moscow’s relations with Kiev.