The European Union has summoned Russia’s ambassador in Brussels to condemn Moscow’s retaliatory decision to bar eight of the bloc’s officials from entering the country.
EU officials informed Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov at the meeting “of the strong rejection and firm condemnation by the EU institutions and EU member states of this decision, which was purely politically motivated and lacks any legal justification,” according to the European Commission, the EU’s executive.
They also noted Russia’s expulsion last month of Czech diplomats after Prague threw out alleged Russian intelligence officers over suspected Moscow involvement in a deadly explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetice in 2014.
The EU side expressed “grave concern for the cumulative impact of all these decisions on the relations between the EU” and Russia.
Brussels also said the 27-member bloc reserves the right to respond with appropriate measures.
Russia’s EU mission said Chizhov “provided additional explanations” on measures taken “in retaliation against the European Union’s unilateral decisions.”
“The importance was stressed of diplomatic actions to straighten out the current unhealthy situation in the dialogue between Moscow and Brussels,” the mission said. “The Russian side reaffirmed its readiness for this work.”
Last week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry banned eight EU officials, including Vera Jourova, Czech vice president for values and transparency at the 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.
The EU imposed sanctions last month on two Russians accused of persecuting gay and lesbian people in the southern Russian region of Chechnya. The EU also slapped sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin the same month.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused the EU of fomenting anti-Russian “hysteria.”