UPDATE 1-Russian court rejects Siemens' plea to seize its turbines in Crimea

(Adds Crimea’s official comment in paragraphs 7, 8)

MOSCOW, Aug 20 (Reuters) - A Moscow court has rejected a request by Siemens to seize its gas turbines, which have turned up in Crimea contrary to EU sanctions, and to ban their installation ahead of preliminary hearings next month, the court’s ruling showed on Sunday.

The ruling by Moscow’s Arbitration Court responded to a lawsuit filed by the German engineering firm Siemens against a Russian state firm in July after four turbines which it had sold for use in Russia turned up in the Moscow-annexed region.

The court’s report showed it had rejected Siemens’ request to take possession of the turbines in an injunction ahead of preliminary court hearings into the dispute set for September 18.

Reuters was the first to report this year that Russian firms had shipped the Siemens turbines to Crimea, which has been subject to EU sanctions on energy technology since Russia unilaterally annexed the region from Ukraine early in 2014.

Moscow needs the turbines for two Crimean power plants the Kremlin wants to get running to fulfill a promise, made by President Vladimir Putin, to ensure a stable power supply for the region’s residents.

Crimea used to rely on the Ukrainian power grid but is now dependent on Russia for electricity.

Sergei Aksyonov, head of the Kremlin-backed local government in Crimea, told Reuters on Sunday that the electrification of the peninsula was going ahead as planned. He did not elaborate.

When asked if foreign experts were still needed to launch electric power plants, Aksyonov said that Crimea did not need them “100 percent”.

The violation of sanctions has prompted the EU to expand penalties against Russia. The new sanctions include Deputy Energy Minister Andrei Cherezov and three Russian companies.

Moscow has said the EU decision to expand sanctions is politically motivated and illegal. (Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; Additional reporting by Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Richard Balmforth)