The EU head of diplomacy Josep Borrell summoned the Russian ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov, in connection with the ban imposed by Mosccow on some EU officials, including the deputy head of the EC Viera Jourova and President of the EP David Sassoli.
EC spokesman Peter Stano said that the Kremlin's decision had no legal justification and was groundless. "We have received a formal notification on this matter, but there is no legal explanation of these actions. (...) These counter-sanctions are obviously politically motivated. (...) The Russian ambassador to the EU was summoned to a meeting with the head of EU diplomacy and the secretary general of the European Commission today in the afternoon. We will express our strong condemnation of Russia's decision," the spokesman said.
“The Russian Federation chose a confrontation with the EU instead of agreeing to remedy the downward trajectory of our bilateral relations,” President of the European Council Charles Michel, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli said in a joint statement on Friday.
They also emphasised that they perceive the Kremlin's action as directed against the entire EU, not just the people concerned.
In addition to high-ranking EU representatives, Russia has also blacklisted officials from Latvia and Estonia responsible for the language policy (Latvians: Ivars Abolins and Maris Baltins, and Estonian Ilmar Tomusk).
Russia's Foreign Ministry stated that this was a response to the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the European Union in March this year. At that time, the EU restricted six representatives of Russia.