EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels, according to unofficial reports, decided to impose new sanctions against Russian officials over the situation with Alexei Navalny. The decision will be officially announced later on Monday.
According to the agencies, citing anonymous diplomats, EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed with a proposal by European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell and several EU countries to expand the list of sanctions against Russian officials.
This will be finally announced after the end of the meeting, on Monday evening, but before the ministerial meeting, none of the EU countries objected to the new sanctions, so no one expected delays with this decision.
According to Reuters, sanctions will be imposed, in particular, against the head of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin, the director of the Federal Penitentiary Service Alexander Kalashnikov, the director of the National Guard Viktor Zolotov and the Prosecutor General of Russia Igor Krasnov.
The decision of the foreign ministers is a preliminary stage in the sanctions approval process. They are to be finally approved by the EU summit on March 25-26.
EU sanctions include a ban on entry, a freeze on assets and a ban on EU citizens and companies from making deals with people who are subject to sanctions.
On Sunday evening, two of Navalny’s associates, Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov, met in Brussels with eight EU foreign ministers and several European diplomats. Volkov and Zhdanov told reporters that at the meeting they “talked about targeted sanctions against Putin’s closest allies and people guilty of gross human rights violations.”
Navalny’s allies are calling on the EU to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs closest to President Putin. At the same time, some European politicians say that sanctions should apply to those who are directly involved in the situation with Navalny, as those not involved can directly appeal the sanctions in the European Court.
Speaking in the European Parliament in November last year, Alexei Navalny himself called on the EU to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin.
In January, Navalny’s ally Volodymyr Ashurkov published a list of Russians agreed with Navalny, against whom, according to the opposition, the West should impose sanctions. The list included eight people, including billionaires Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, VTB chief Andrei Kostin, TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov, Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko and others.
However, last week Bloomberg reported that new EU sanctions are unlikely to affect Russian billionaires, as some bloc countries are afraid to “burn all the bridges” with Moscow.
The position of the Kremlin
On February 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov that the Kremlin was ready to sever relations with the European Union if sanctions were sensitive to the Russian economy.
“We assume that we are ready. If we see once again how we have repeatedly felt that sanctions are imposed in some areas, which create risks for our economy, in particular, in the most sensitive areas …”, – said Lavrov in response to the question of whether Russia is moving towards a break with the EU.
According to the minister, Russia does not want to be isolated “from world life”, but must be ready for it. “If you want peace, prepare for war,” Lavrov said.
Later, Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, commenting on Lavrov’s words, said that the media misinterpreted the meaning of his words.
“It simply came to our notice then [розриву зв’язків з ЄС], we want to develop relations with the European Union. But if the European Union follows this path [запровадження санкцій з ризиком для російської економіки], then yes, we will be ready, because we must be ready for the worst, “the Kremlin spokesman told TASS.
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