The European Union has criticised Russia over its travel blacklist that includes 89 EU politicians, officials and military leaders calling it “arbitrary and unjustified.”
The list was prepared by the Russian foreign ministry and handed to the EU delegation in Moscow.
The blacklist includes outspoken critics of the Russian President Vladimir Putin on his stance towards Ukraine as well as a number of the bloc’s leading politicians, military and intelligence officials.
“We consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency,” said a spokeswoman for the EU foreign affairs.
However, according to the TASS news agency, a high-ranking official at the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday justified the country’s decision saying that the list is a response to the sanctions imposed against Russia.
“An answer to some European countries demanding to explain why these names have been put in the lists of persons banned from entering Russia is quite simple - this was done as a response to a sanctions campaign unleashed against Russia by some Germany-led countries of the European Union,” said a ministry official.
The ministry official also added that “US citizens are blacklisted as well but it should be mentioned that in this case our American partners act more constructively than the European ones.”
The travel blacklist includes nationals from countries such as the US, UK, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.
After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea on March 2014, the EU and US issued several sanctions on September 14, 2014 aimed at restricting Russia’s banking, energy and arms industries.
Russia is currently being boycotted by many western country leaders ever since Moscow annexed Crimea and gave its alleged military and political support to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics inside Ukraine.
Last week a string of events outlined the rising tension between Russia and the West with the most striking one being the military showdown in efforts of exhibiting muscle strength.