EU bans distribution of four Russian news outlets

LONDON – The European Union said on Friday it was suspending the distribution of four Russia-linked media outlets in the EU, despite a warning from Moscow this week that any such move would draw swift retaliation.

The ban applies to Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti news agency and Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspapers, on the grounds that they “have been essential and instrumental in bringing forward and supporting Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”, the European Council said in a statement.

The measure is part of a planned 14th package of sanctions against Russia over its 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The bloc has previously imposed sanctions on Russian state-owned media Russia Today and Sputnik.

The EU had signalled the move earlier this week, prompting Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to warn: “We will respond with lightning speed and extremely painfully for the Westerners.” It was not clear how Moscow would hit back.

In an interview with Izvestia, the head of the international department of the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) called the EU ban “unlawful” and said the matter should have been decided by a court.

Timur Shafir said the ban would prevent Russian-speakers living in parts of Europe once under Soviet control from accessing what he called “alternative information” on world events.

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