The European Union (EU) on Monday summoned Russian Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov to inform him "of the strong rejection and firm condemnation" of blacklistings that Brussels says were "purely politically motivated and lack any legal justification."
At issue is Russia's decision on Friday of last week to bar eight high-ranking EU officials, including European Parliament President David Sassoli and EU Commission for Values and Transparency Vice-President Vera Jourova, entry into Russia.
Moscow says the move was made in protest of EU sanctions issued recently over a number of issues, including the jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
What did the EU tell the Russian envoy?
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the Kremlin's blacklisting of EU officials "groundless."
A statement released by the EU said Chizhov had also been reminded of Russia's expulsion of Czech diplomats and an executive order from the Russian Federation designating so-called "unfriendly states," with the bloc expressing "grave concern for the cumulative impact of all these decisions" on EU-Russia relations.
It was also noted that, "the EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response."
Tensions between Moscow and Brussels have been growing lately, with the bloc slapping sanctions on Moscow over the poisoning, arrest and continued detention Navalny. Brussels has also criticized Russia over recent troop buildups along the Ukrainian border and in the occupied Crimean peninsula.
Both sides have been expelling diplomats at a rapid pace of late, The EU will discuss possible reactions to Moscow's latest move at a meeting of member state foreign ministers next week.
js/wmr (AP, Reuters)