Russia bars more top EU officials in response to sanctions

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - Russia said on Thursday it had greatly expanded the number of European Union officials, lawmakers, public figures and journalists barred from Russia for allegedly being responsible for sanctions and stoking anti-Russian feelings.

"The restrictions apply to the top leadership of the European Union, including a number of European commissioners and heads of EU military structures, as well as the vast majority of members of the European Parliament who promote anti-Russian policies," Russia's foreign ministry said.

The EU, the United States and numerous other Western countries have imposed sweeping economic and political sanctions on Russia, some Russian media and prominent or wealthy Russians in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Moscow said its blacklist also included representatives of some EU member states as well as public figures and journalists who it said were "personally responsible for promoting illegal anti-Russian sanctions, inciting Russophobic sentiments and the infringement of the rights and freedoms of the Russian-speaking population".

Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Kevin Liffey

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