The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman accused the West of a plan to contain Russia.

Iran PressEurope: "Western countries are implementing a pre-designed intelligence program to contain Russia," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Sputnik on Saturday.

"Zakharova has said that Russia has repeatedly made proposals to EU member states to resolve problems in recent years, adding that so far all Moscow's efforts for dialogue and constructive interaction have been blocked by the EU."

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also referred to Moscow's recent move to sanction eight EU officials, saying it was a natural reaction to the Europeans' utterly unfriendly and hostile actions.

Russia's foreign ministry said on Friday that it had blacklisted David Sassoli, the speaker of the European Parliament, and seven other EU members and representatives of the EU.

Following in the footsteps of US policy since 2014, the European Union has imposed a series of economic and financial sanctions against Russia, accusing Russia of interfering in the conflict of eastern Ukraine and aiding the opposition.

The secession of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and its annexation to Russia in 2014, according to the results of the referendum, has increased the tension between Russia and Europe.

Clashes in eastern Ukraine began in April 2014 following a Western-led coup against the then government. 219