The European Union summoned the Russian ambassador after Moscow blacklisted eight EU officials
BRUSSELS – The European Union summoned the Russian ambassador after Moscow blacklisted eight EU officials in retaliation for the bloc’s decision to impose sanctions for the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The Russian list announced on Friday includes the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and Vera Jourova, a vice president of the European Commission whose mandate includes questions of the rule of law and disinformation.
European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said that Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov will meet in Brussels on Monday with senior EU officials, who “will convey to him our strong condemnation and rejection of that decision”.
Stano said the travel bans imposed by Russia are “obviously very politically motivated and lack any legal justification. They are unfounded. ”He said that“ all of this shows that Russia is determined to continue on the hostile path of confrontation ”.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused the EU of wanting to punish Moscow for its “independent foreign and domestic policy” and of trying to limit its development with “illegal restrictions”.
EU foreign ministers will discuss tensions with Russia when they meet on 10 May. The heads of state and government of the 27-nation bloc will also address the issue at their summit on May 25.
In March, the EU imposed sanctions on six Russian officials involved in the arrest of Navalny, who is the most vehement opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Navalny was arrested in January on his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he attributes to the Kremlin – charges that Russian officials reject. European laboratories confirmed that Navalny was poisoned.