“We consider it absolutely unacceptable the still sounding demands – groundless and absurd – to release a citizen of the Russian Federation who has been convicted by a Russian court for economic crimes,” stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement released late Monday evening. It assessed that “in international practice this is called interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.”
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU’s decision on the new sanctions was preceded by an “information campaign” regarding the visit of the EU foreign minister, Josep Borrell, to Moscow on 5 February. “The meaning of this information campaign was clearly to find a suitable excuse to impose on EU foreign ministers thoughts about the need to get back, and to compensate for the image losses allegedly suffered by EU diplomacy at the cost of further deterioration of relations with Russia,” the ministry said.
The statement concluded that the decision on the sanctions was “disappointing” and that it was taken “under an artificial pretext”. The EU “has lost another opportunity to revise the course of setting artificial conditions, sanctions and pressures in relations with Russia, which has turned out to be completely unconvincing over the past years,” added the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the EU countries of being guided by “anti-Russian stereotypes”.
“The inclusion in the arsenal of EU foreign policy of such unlawful tools as ultimatums, pressure and sanctions is only regrettable,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Borrell said on Monday that EU foreign ministers had agreed to introduce further sanctions against Russia in response to Navalny’s imprisonment. The sanctions will cover, inter alia, Russia’s Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov and head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin.
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