Russia has banned the entry into the country of eight officials from European Union member nations to retaliate against “illegitimate” EU sanctions imposed on Russian citizens.
“The European Union continues to pursue its policy of illegitimate, unilateral restrictive measures against Russian citizens and organizations,” Russia’s foreign ministry declared in a Friday statement.
According to the statement, those banned included Vera Jourova, vice president for values and transparency at the executive European Commission, David Sassoli, the president of the European parliament, and Jacques Maire, a member of the French delegation at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.
Russia also barred three officials from the Baltic states, namely Ivars Abolins, chairman of Latvia’s National Electronic Media Council, Maris Baltins, director of the Latvian State Language Center, and Ilmar Tomusk, head of Estonia’s Language Inspectorate.
Additionally, it imposed the entry ban on Berlin’s Public Prosecutor Jorg Raupach and the Swedish Defense Research Agency’s Asa Scott.
The foreign ministry statement blamed the EU bloc of nations for “openly and deliberately” undermining the independence of Moscow’s domestic and foreign policy.
The EU imposed sanctions in March against two Russians in the southern Russian region of Chechnya. It also imposed sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin.
Reacting to Russia’s retaliatory measure, Sassoli along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council Chief Charles Michel issued a joint statement censuring the tit-for-tat move as “unacceptable” action in “the strongest possible terms”.
“The EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response to the Russian authorities’ decision,” the statement added without elaborating on potential moves.
Moscow decries US halt of visa services
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Moscow said it was cutting staff and will stop issuing visas to most Russian citizens, prompting the Kremlin to accuse Washington of fuelling tension with “unfriendly actions.”