An employee counts Russian ruble banknotes at a private company's office in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, December 17, 2014. While the West viewed the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law, Russia links the even to nationalist sentiment. Reuters

Russia will print millions of new banknotes commemorating its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014. While Moscow claimed that the annexation helped President Vladimir Putin’s popularity to soar, the event was condemned by many world leaders, as well as NATO, as an illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory.

According to Georgy Luntovsky, the deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, as many as 20 million 100-ruble ($1.80) banknotes will be printed to glorify the Crimean annexation. However, the note’s design is not yet completed, Luntovsky reportedly said during an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

The move followed Luntovsky’s recent announcement that the central bank planned to release a banknote memorializing the Crimean annexation by the end of 2015, the Moscow Times reported.

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula set off a series of sanctions and counter-sanctions, with the West claiming that Moscow violated the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, signed by Russia.

In April, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the country’s economy fell into recession in the first quarter of this year largely because of the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the U.S.

In May, Moscow also reportedly released a blacklist of EU politicians, who are no longer allowed to travel to Russia. The Russian government’s move came in response to EU sanctions over the country’s annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

This is not the first time that a unit of Russian currency has been used to honor the Crimean annexation. In October last year, the central bank released two new 10-ruble coins to celebrate the annexation. The bank said at the time that 10 million of each coin -- featuring images of the Crimean peninsula and the phrase “Russian Federation” -- would be released.