Russia restricts entry of some Japanese citizens as retaliation

The Russian government said Friday it has restricted the entry of specific Japanese citizens in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Japan over the Ukraine crisis.

Igor Morgulov, deputy minister of Russia's Foreign Ministry, handed a list of Japanese citizens subject to the measure to Japanese Ambassador to Russia Chikahito Harada at the ministry.

The number of people subject to the measure and their names were not released. The ministry explained to the Japanese side that the measure is a response to Japan's earlier visa-related sanction against a number of Russian citizens.

The Japanese side criticized the measure, saying it will have a negative impact on bilateral relations. An official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in Tokyo that 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 Japanese government imposed additional sanctions on Russia earlier this month by freezing assets held in Japan 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 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed in February that Putin would visit Japan in the fall. But the Ukraine crisis had dimmed prospects of that happening now, and Moscow's latest tit-for-tat action is expected to make it even harder to realize.