Russian FM dimisses ‘absurdity’ of EU anger over entry bans
MOSCOW – Agence France-Presse
AP PhotoRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday dismissed the “absurdity” of EU complaints over a travel ban imposed by Moscow on 89 Europeans over the Ukraine crisis.
“It is even quite embarrassing to explain the absurdity and awkwardness of such logic as it’s an attempt to substitute international law with one’s own political biases,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow amid a new spike in tensions with Brussels.
Moscow last week released a list of 89 European nationals who had been banned from travelling to Russia.
The European Union on May 30 called the blacklist “totally arbitrary and unjustified” and pointed to a lack of transparency over those targeted.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman for his part told reporters that “we are having a hard time understanding this reaction.”
The list includes past and serving parliamentarians and ministers who have openly criticized Putin and the war in Ukraine.
Military figures and secret service chiefs are also thought to be on the list.
Lavrov said those on the list “actively supported a state coup” in Ukraine, referring to a popular uprising in Kiev in 2014 which ousted Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych.
The uprising led Russia to seize the peninsula of Crimea in March 2014 and then buttress Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Lavrov insisted that Russia’s response was measured and merely followed Western sanctions.
EU officials said Moscow had asked for the list not to be made public.
Lavrov said on June 1 that Moscow had hoped to avoid a scandal.
“We simply let our partners in the European Union know that we, too, have a blacklist because we did not want to follow the European Union’s bad example and stage a noisy campaign publicizing these names.”