RUSSIA | KREMLIN ACCUSES EUROPE OF AN “ILLEGAL, DESTRUCTIVE AND SENSELESS POLICY OF UNILATERAL RESTRICTIONS” ON RUSSIA. MOSCOW DID NOT MENTION THE LIST OF AFFECTED, WHICH INCLUDES EUROPEAN PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANIES.
Russia has imposed a travel ban on senior European Union (EU) officials at a time when tensions with the West are growing over some 100,000 Russian troops stationed near the border with Ukraine.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, those affected are mainly representatives of security forces, the legislature and the executive “who are personally responsible for propagating an anti-Russian course of action.” The Kremlin accuses Europe of an “illegal, destructive and senseless policy of unilateral restrictions” on Russia.
Unlike the EU and the US, Russia does not mention the names of those affected when it comes to sanctions. Sometimes they only learn about the impediments at the border, when they have denied entry into the country and need to return home.
According to Russia’s foreign ministry, the measures also target “Private European military companies operating in different regions of the world.” This suggests that Moscow sees the entry bans as a reaction to EU sanctions linked to the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization.
In December, the EU imposed punitive measures against those responsible for the Wagner Group, considered Russia’s “shadow army.” Moscow denies any connection to the paramilitary group.
Wagner’s troops reportedly fought alongside pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as in Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic. Mercenaries are accused of war crimes. “Several hundred” Wagner members are also operating in Mali and West Africa, the head of the U.S. Armed Forces African Command, Stephen Townsend, said recently.
A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell lamented Russia’s decision to impose new entry bans. According to him, the measure lacks any legal basis and transparency and will result in an “appropriate response”. Instead of helping to slow the escalation, Russia is fueling tensions in Europe, the EU spokesman said.
From what the West has called an imminent attack on Ukraine, the US and THE EU are threatening the Kremlin with massive economic sanctions if Russian troops invade the neighboring country.
According to NATO and U.S. findings, Moscow has assembled more than 100,000 troops, as well as tanks and other military equipment on the border with the neighboring country. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies plans to attack.
On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced the deployment of U.S. troops “in the short term” to NATO-allied countries. Other European nations are also sending contingents to the Baltic countries.