Russia has a new list of foreign nationals that are prohibited from entering the country due to their anti-Russian actions and sentiments.
According to Russian daily Izvestia, there were more than 200 blacklisted foreigners including civil servants, politicians and other public figures from the European Union and the United States.
A source close to the presidential administration told Izvestia that the Russian embassy received an instruction to put together a list of Russophobic minded foreign nationals with assets in Russia.
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Around 60 U.S. citizens were blacklisted in Russia
According to the report, around 60 U.S. citizens were blacklisted in Russia including and Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson, presidential advisers Daniel Pfeiffer and Benjamin Rhodes, Senators John McCain, Daniel Coats and Mary Landriieu.
Russia also blacklisted U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Robert Menendes.
The report indicated that blacklisted individuals will be denied entry to Russia and their assets will be frozen. The Russian Foreign Ministry declined to name the specific figures behind the new sanctions list, but it did not rule out the possibility of expanding it if the West would impose new sanctions against Russia.
Russia has no desire of banning game with the West
“We have no special desire to play this banning game with the West, but if they maintain their sanctions activity we will also launch new blacklists prepared by our diplomatic missions,” according to the source from Kremlin as quoted by the Russian daily.
Leonid Kalashnikov, deputy head of the State Duma Committee of Foreign Relations stated that many countries in Europe already understood that antagonizing Russia is hurting them. He added that politicians from those countries are seeking agreements with Moscow.
Kalashnikov said, “No one needs these blacklists; neither Russia nor the West. Russian politicians who fall under restrictions have never had real estate or bank accounts in Western countries.”
He added, “The only objective of the sanctions is to deprive us of the opportunity to deliver our position at international parliamentary conferences. But if the West is preaching the freedom of speech, why do they try to silence politicians?”
Last year, the European Union and the United Stated States imposed sanctions including visa bans, asset freezes on a number of Russians who were allegedly “key architects and ideologists” of the policy towards Ukraine. More individuals were blacklisted as relationship between the West and Russia deteriorates.
Earlier this month, Dmitry Peskov, the presidential press secretary emphasized that “no sanctions will force Russia to make changes to the persistent line it follows in international affairs.”
He described the sanctions as a “double-edged sword” because it is not only damaging the economy of Russia, but it is also hurting the world economy including the businesses of the countries that imposed such sanctions.
Ukraine urges EU to stand firm on sanctions against Russia
Separately, Ukraine urged the European Union (EU) to stand firm in implementing strong sanctions against Russia. Ukraine made the appeal due to concerns of weakening support for them. It has been reported that Austria, Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia are planning to oppose the extension of sanctions against Russia.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arsenit Yatsenyuk said, “If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin splits the unity among EU member states and among the leaders of the EU member countries, this will be the biggest success story of President Putin and this will be a disaster for the free world.”
Yatsenyuk also urged EU leaders to send peace keepers to eastern Ukraine to ensure that Russia will comply with the Minsk Agreement. He said, “We expect that our European friends will support this idea, because everyone wants to get peace in Europe and one of the tools to reach this peace is to deploy peacekeepers.”
EU leaders likely to maintain sanctions against Russia
On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it would be wrong to prematurely alleviate pressure against Moscow. Based on her statement, it is likely that EU leaders would maintain the economic sanctions against Russia until they see that the ceasefire agreement in Ukraine is fully working. German
“We cannot and will not lift the sanctions that expire in July or September until the demands of the Minsk agreement have been fulfilled. That would be wrong,” said Merkel at Bundestag.