MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday a European Union ban on Russians bringing their cars and some personal goods into the bloc was racist, and one ally of President Vladimir Putin suggested that all diplomatic relations should be severed in response.
In an explanatory note to its rules on sanctions imposed over the Ukraine war, the European Commission said Russians were temporarily barred from bringing some personal goods or vehicles into the 27-nation EU.
The annex referred to in the advice also appears to ban the import of a host of items which could be dual use alongside more mundane items such as make-up, toothpaste, deodorants, toilet paper and mobile phones.
"It's just racism," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said of the Commission's advice. "This is racism pure and simple."
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said the EU had just spat in the face of all Russians, saying they were being treated as "half-animals with bad heredity".
"What should we do? Certainly not introduce retaliatory restrictions for EU citizens, we are not racists," Medvedev said. "It would be better to simply suspend diplomatic relations with the EU for a while."
The West imposed stringent sanctions on Russia after Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in a full-scale invasion in 2022. Moscow says the sanctions and the confiscation of Russian property amount to a declaration of economic war.
The Kremlin has vowed that Russia, whose economy is forecast to grow this year, will never bow to the West over Ukraine.
In a question and answer sheet, the European Commission asked: "Can Russian nationals temporarily bring personal goods and vehicles listed in Annex XXI and subject to the prohibition in Art. 3i of Council Regulation 833/2014 into the Union,
e.g. for touristic travels?"
"No. Article 3i of Council Regulation 833/2014 prohibits the purchase, import, or transfer, directly or indirectly, of goods as listed in Annex XXI to the Regulation if they originate in Russia or are exported from Russia. This includes motor vehicles (cars) falling under CN code 8703."
Asked about the implementation of the rules, a Commission spokesperson said clothes worn by someone crossing a border were unlikely to be aimed at circumventing sanctions.
"That is a different situation to an expensive car," the spokesperson said.
Some Russians say the West has at times played into the hands of the Kremlin by appearing to cast all Russian citizens as enemies who should be punished and ostracised for a war over which they have no say.
The Kremlin says Russians are being illegally discriminated against in the West amid a wave of Russophobia.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Gareth Jones)