MOSCOW – The Russian government said Friday it has restricted the entry of specific Japanese citizens in apparent retaliation for sanctions Japan imposed over the Ukraine crisis.
Igor Morgulov, deputy minister of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, handed a list of Japanese subject to the measure to Japanese Ambassador to Russia Chikahito Harada at the ministry.
The number of people and their names were not released. The ministry told Japan that the measure is a response to Japan’s earlier visa-related sanction against a number of Russian citizens.
Japan criticized the measure and said it will have a negative impact on bilateral relations. A Foreign Ministry official in Tokyo said it is necessary to analyze what Moscow intends by the action and how it differs from Russia’s sanctions against other countries.
Tokyo announced in April that it will deny visas to 23 Russian nationals, including government officials, as part of additional sanctions against Moscow for its lack of visible action to reduce tensions in Ukraine.
The government imposed additional sanctions on Russia earlier this month by freezing assets in Japan held by 40 individuals and two groups directly involved in Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the instability in eastern Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed in February that Putin would visit Japan in the fall. But the Ukraine crisis has dimmed the prospects of that happening, and Moscow’s latest tit-for-tat action is expected to make it even harder to bring about.