At this point, one could make an argument that Russia is feeling a bit surrounded, but many observers in the West -- certainly in the United States and Europe -- would disagree.

Russia Thursday denounced European Union officials’ call to hold early elections -- arguing that any effort is a de-facto attempt to push Ukraine toward the Western-oriented economic alliance.

Russia also sharply criticized Western sanctions against Ukrainian officials on Thursday, after the United States imposed visa bans and the European Union considered similar measures in the face of deadly clashes in Kiev, Reuters reported.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the sanctions were "absolutely illegitimate" and "capable of only aggravating the confrontation" in Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov likened threats of sanctions to blackmail, state-run news agency RIA reported.

"The EU is also trying to consider the introduction of sanctions, and at the same time they come to Kiev on uninvited missions," Lavrov was quoted as saying during a visit to Baghdad. "Such actions are reminiscent of blackmail."

The United States said on Wednesday that it had imposed U.S. visa bans on 20 Ukrainian government officials it considered "responsible for ordering human rights abuses related to political oppression.”