European Union chiefs on Friday slammed Russian sanctions that hit top Brussels officials and warned the bloc could strike back at the Kremlin in the latest row with Moscow.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms today's decision of the Russian authorities to ban eight European Union nationals from entering the Russian territory," a joint statement from the heads of the European Council, Commission and Parliament said.
"This action is unacceptable, lacks any legal justification and is entirely groundless. It targets the European Union directly, not only the individuals concerned," it said.
Moscow on Friday put eight European officials, including the president of the European Parliament David Sassoli and Commission vice-president Vera Jourova, on a blacklist in retaliation for EU sanctions against Russian officials over abuses including the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
"This decision is the latest, striking demonstration of how the Russian Federation has chosen confrontation with the EU instead of agreeing to redress the negative trajectory of our bilateral relations," the EU chiefs -- Sassoli, Commission head Ursula von der Leyen and her Council counterpart Charles Michel -- said.
"The EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response to the Russian authorities' decision."
Jourova, the EU commissioner for values and transparency, said she was "pleased to be in such a good company" of the other officials barred entry to Russia.
"I will continue to stand up for human rights, for media freedom and for democracy," she said.
"Russia's constant efforts to sow disinformation and to undermine human rights deserve strong and continuous reaction. If this is the price for telling the truth, then I will gladly pay it," she added.