Relations between Russia and Europe took a turn for the worse this weekend, on reports that Moscow had banned 89 European politicians and military leaders from entering the country, in a move that could land it with an extension of economic sanctions.
The European Union (EU) said on Saturday that multiple officials had been placed on Moscow's "stop list," denying them entry to Russia. These include top brass from the U.K., France, Germany, Scandinavia, the Baltic states and eastern European countries that have criticized Russia.
"The list with 89 names has now been shared by the Russian authorities," according to a press release on the EU's External Action website.
"We don't have any other information on legal basis, criteria and process of this decision. We consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency."
Russia's foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny the existence of the "stop list" when contacted by CNBC on Monday.
However, a senior political analyst at Nomura told CNBC that Russia's move could backfire, as it comes shortly ahead of a European Council meeting to discuss whether to extend economic sanctions on Russia.
"This move makes it all the more likely that we'll see the current batch of sanctions extended until the end of the year," Alastair Newton told CNBC on Monday.
The European Council, which sets the EU's policy agenda, will meet on June 25 -26 to discuss whether to extend economic sanctions on Russia.
Newton said that following the stop list news, Nomura raised the probability of sanctions on Russia being extended to "up to 70 percent," up from 55 percent last week. (Tweet this)
However, an EU official told CNBC that any decision to extend sanctions would be linked solely to whether Russia had upheld the conditions of the "Minsk agreement" ceasefire deal over Ukraine.
"(European) leaders agreed in March to link economic sanctions to the full and complete implementation of the Minsk agreement. Our sanctions have a clear legal basis and we do this in a very clear and transparent way," the official, who preferred not to be named due to the sensitive nature of forthcoming discussions, told CNBC on Monday.
Relations between Europe and Russia have been strained since Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea last year and allegedly played a role in the pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow's actions prompted Europe to impose hard-hitting economic sanctions on Russia, to which the Vladimir Putin-led regime retaliated with a similar ban on European imports.
Any decision by Europe to extend sanctions won't be a simple one though, particularly given the ambivalence shown by EU countries like Italy and Greece, whose economies rely on exports, including to Russia.
These countries' ambivalence towards sanctions could be reinforced by Russia's latest saber-rattling, Newton said.
"The easy assumption is that this (ban) will make Europe extend sanctions – but there's a real possibility that Russia's latest move could reinforce the wavering we've seen in certain countries."