LONDON (Reuters) -Russia said on Saturday it had so far banned 963 Americans from entering the country – including previously announced moves against President Joe Biden and other top officials – and would continue to retaliate against what it called hostile U.S. actions.
The largely symbolic travel bans form part of a downward spiral in Russia’s relations with the West since its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which prompted Washington and its allies to impose drastic sanctions on Moscow and step up arms supplies to Ukraine.
Separately, the Foreign Ministry said it had added 26 new names to a list of Canadians it has barred from travelling to Russia, including defence chiefs, defence industry executives and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Publishing the full list of banned Americans for the first time, the ministry said: “We emphasize that the hostile actions taken by Washington, which boomerang against the United States itself, will continue to receive a proper rebuff.”
It said Russian counter-sanctions were a necessary response aimed at “forcing the ruling American regime, which is trying to impose a neo-colonial ‘rules-based world order’ on the rest of the world, to change its behavior, recognizing new geopolitical realities.”
Previously announced names on the huge list included Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA chief William Burns.
The new Canadian list was published four days after Canada introduced a bill that will ban President Vladimir Putin and about 1,000 members of his government and military from travelling there.
It included Jocelyn Paul, Eric Kenny and Angus Topshee, who were named last month as the new heads of the Canadian army, air force and navy, and executives of companies including Lockheed Martin Canada and Raytheon Canada.
In response to sanctions, Russia had already banned Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and hundreds of other Canadians from entering the country.
(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan, Editing by Timothy Heritage)