Brussels: The European Union (EU) on Friday condemned the expulsion of its diplomats from the diplomatic mission in Moscow calling the measure "a purely retaliatory step".

"The European Union deplores the unjustified, baseless decision of the Russian Federation to expel 18 members of the Delegation of the European Union to the Russian Federation. The EU diplomats in question exercise their functions in the framework of and in full respect for the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. There are no grounds for Friday's decision by the Russian authorities beyond being a pure retaliatory step," the European External Action Service said in a statement.

The development comes after hundreds of Russian diplomats were expelled from various EU countries, especially after the killings of civilians in Ukraine's Bucha, which has been blamed on the Russian forces.

Countries that have expelled Russian diplomats include France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Greece, and Norway.

In February, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine after recognizing the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as "independent republics".

In response, western countries imposed a wide-ranging sanctions regime on Russia targeting the country's exports, wealthy individuals and even financial institutions.