On Friday, Russia announced that eight European Union officials will be denied access to the country in response to sanctions imposed by the bloc. Last month, the EU imposed a series of sanctions on four of Russia’s top officials over the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, a renowned critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the subsequent police action that was taken during a protest in support of Mr Navalny.
In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said: “The European Union continues its policy of unilateral illegitimate restrictive measures targeting Russian citizens and organisations.
“Such actions by the European Union leave no doubt that their true goal is to restrain the development of our country at any cost.”
Barred officials include David Sassoli, European Parliament President, and Vera Jourova, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency.
Russia has been on the receiving end of multiple sanctions in recent weeks after the US imposed restrictions on dozens of Russian entities and officials in response to cyber-attacks.
On April 15, the US expelled 10 Russian diplomats as part of an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.
Russia’s reaction to the expulsion was a tit-for-tat response – announcing the expulsion of ten US diplomats the very next day.
The EU criticised Moscow’s latest actions and promised that it “reserves the right” to make “appropriate measures” in response.
In a joint statement from the heads of the EU council, commission and parliament, the bloc said Russia’s latest action “is unacceptable, lacks any legal justification and is entirely groundless.
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The president made no mention of Navalny during the national address.
Putin also promised that “Russia will always find a way to defend its position.”