DUBLIN, Ireland: Russia has banned 50 top Irish officials from entering Russia, including Taoiseach Michael Martin.
This follows the imposition of Western sanctions on Russia over its ongoing war in Ukraine.
Among the top Irish officials banned are Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, along with other officials and politicians.
Commenting on the banning of Irish officials, the Russian foreign ministry said the measures were taken due to Ireland's support of EU sanctions against Russia.
"Acting under orders from Brussels, Ireland is conducting an aggressive anti-Russian propaganda campaign," said a foreign ministry statement.
The Russians further accuse Ireland of seeking to reduce bilateral cooperation with Moscow.
Additionally, Russia demanded that Ireland issue an an apology for an incident in March in which an Irishman drove his truck through the gates of its Dublin embassy to protest the war in Ukraine.
"In response to the anti-Russian course of the Irish Government, which unconditionally supports the unilateral restrictive measures introduced by the European Union against Russian citizens aimed at attempts to isolate our country internationally, a decision was made to include 52 key representatives of the leadership and politicians of Ireland in the Russian "stop list," said the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement.
Meanwhile, Martin said that sanctioning Irish officials was part of a "broader propaganda war being waged by Russia."
Also, Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said Russia's move was "absolutely disgraceful" and called for the closure of the Russian embassy with its "so-called diplomats."
Additionally, Cathal Berry, Independent TD, has called for reducing the number of staff permitted to work in Russia's embassy in Dublin.