Navalny: Europeans will sanction the Kremlin, consultation with Washington
Europeans and Americans will consult on Monday in Brussels on the strategy against Russia and the EU will for the first time activate its global human rights sanctions regime against the Kremlin, according to several member states.
The European foreign ministers will retaliate at the end of refusal by Moscow to their demands to release the opponent Alexeï Navalny and the affront inflicted on their emissary Josep Borrell during his visit to Moscow in early February.
A videoconference will allow the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to join in their reflections.
The return of the United States to the Iranian nuclear deal, the response to the coup d’état in Burma and the stranglehold of China on Hong Kong will be discussed during the interview, a source said. European.
The Europeans should sanction the violence in Burma where the police fired on Saturday against the demonstrators in Mandalay (center), killing two.
The fact that the US Secretary of State agreed to participate in this meeting immediately after his confirmation is considered an important “signal” and the expression of President Joe Biden’s desire to reconnect with Europeans, considered to be “enemies. “by Donald Trump, underlined several European diplomats.
The difficult relationship with Vladimir Putin will be at the heart of the debates between the 27 and with Anthony Blinken.
“Moscow does not want to dialogue with the EU, but only with some of its member states. We must thwart this strategy and remain united,” said a European diplomat.
“With Josep Borrell’s visit to Moscow, we saw, we understood and we will learn from it, but this must be done in a cold and structured manner,” he insisted.
The instruction is not heard by all member states. Critics have been fired in certain countries against Josep Borrell and his resignation has been demanded by European elected officials from the Baltic States and Eastern European countries. “All this weakens his position,” lamented several officials in Brussels.
An escalation is also underway for the sanctions. The names of several oligarchs and journalists close to power were cited by Leonid Volkov, one of Alexey Navalny’s closest collaborators. And pressure is being exerted on Germany to abandon the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis is organizing a Sunday evening meeting in Brussels with Leonid Volkov, to which he has invited all his counterparts. A dozen ministers will participate and the other countries will be represented, we learned from the delegations.
– “Political agreement acquired” –
The ministers will decide on Monday to prepare new sanctions and identify the people and entities concerned. “A political agreement is reached”, assured several diplomats. They should be adopted for the European summit on March 25-26, said one of them.
For the first time, the Europeans will activate their new global human rights sanctions regime, a European official announced on Friday.
Josep Borrell has announced proposals. But “the final decision is up to the member states and it must be unanimous,” recalls his spokesperson.
Little chance to see Russian oligarchs and journalists banned from staying in the EU and their assets frozen, however, said several diplomats and officials briefed on the consultations.
“Sanctioning journalists is a double-edged sword, because Russia will respond,” one of them told AFP. As for the oligarchs, “we must dismantle their involvement or their association” with the sanctioned acts.
And no agreement is expected to force Germany to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project. But American sanctions are slowing the finalization of this 1,200 kilometer pipeline co-financed by five private European groups.
The EU’s dependence on Russian gas – one third of annual European purchases – is a serious obstacle to a more muscular approach to the relationship with Russia, underlines Nicu Popescu, EU-Russia relations analyst for the European Council for Foreign Relations.
In addition, “Washington, like the European capitals, still want to find means of keeping at least positive relations with Russia”, he adds.
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