Russia has issued a list of travel bans against 89 politicians and military leaders from the European Union. The personalities include Poland’s deputy Justice Minister Robert Kupiecki, former British defence minister Malcolm Rifkind, Swedish tax authority head Eva Lidstrom Adler, current secretary general of the European Union council in Brussels Uwe Corsepius and even Britain’s former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, among others. As expected, the EU blasted Russia’s latest move.
The EU called the bans on Saturday “totally arbitrary and unjustified.” It added they could also be illegal.
Rifkind sees the bans as a desperate move on the part of Russia. That it implemented the travel embargoes meant the sanctions slapped by the West were already making an impact, otherwise “they wouldn’t have reacted unless they felt very sore at what had happened,” Rifkind told BBC Radio 5 Live.
Without Russia providing no information for its decision to effect the ban, observers now believed the country isn’t even the slightest interested to resolve its confrontation with the West over the Ukraine crisis. The travel bans in fact now brings the conflict “to a new and even more dangerous level.”
Others in the list were MI5 director general Andrew Parker, former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers and chief of the defence staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton. Same with French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt and the EU’s former enlargement chief Stefan Fule.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said the ban was “not based on international law.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the list will no doubt hamper peace efforts. “At a time in which we are trying to defuse a persistent and dangerous conflict, this does not contribute towards that,” he said.
An unnamed official confirmed to Russian news agency Tass the ban was a response to EU sanctions against Moscow. “Why it was precisely these people who entered into the list is simple – it was done in answer to the sanctions campaign which has been waged in relation to Russia by several states of the European Union.”
Other countries with names on the list include Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain. The Ukraine conflict has killed more than 6,200 people so far.