Russia has formally declared the United States' National Endowment for Democracy as an undesirable group hostile to national interests.

The Justice Ministry's decision Wednesday means the non-governmental organization will be prevented from distributing grants or having offices in Russia. The move was expected after the general prosecutor's office on Tuesday described the group as a threat to Russia's constitutional order, defense and national security.

That decision brought criticism from the U.S. State Department as an "intentional step to isolate the Russian people from the world."

Russia's Foreign Ministry lashed back Wednesday, calling the State Department hypocritical and declaring "we will never tolerate the mentoring and outright intervention in our affairs by foreign entities."

Since Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012, Russia has intensified efforts to stifle dissent.