Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksei Meshkov has rejected Western criticism of the Kremlin’s European Union blacklist, saying that the entry ban against 89 politicians from 17 EU countries was not politically motivated.
Meshkov said on June 1 that the "sole purpose" of the blacklist against staunch Kremlin critics in the EU "is to make somewhat easier the life of persons on that list."
He said Moscow’s confidence in the EU has been undermined by complaints about the ban from Brussels.
Tensions are high between Moscow and the West over Russia's seizure and annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The EU has imposed sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on 151 Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians.
EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said on May 30 that the Kremlin’s blacklist was "totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency."
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, TASS, and Interfax