Russia “Ready” To Cut EU Ties If Bloc Moves On Putin Inner Circle Sanctions
The arrest and recent prison sentencing of anti-Kremlin activist Alexei Navalny continues to drive a wedge between Russia and Western Europe, following recent tit-for-tat sanctions in the form of travel bans against each side’s intelligence and diplomatic officials.
According to the latest, “Three European diplomats told Reuters on Thursday the EU was likely to impose travel bans and asset freezes on allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, possibly as soon as this month.”
The imminent punitive measure comes after last week Russia expelled diplomatic personnel from the German, Swedish, and Polish embassies over accusations they were stoking ‘unauthorized’ pro-Navalny protests across various Russian cities. Adding insult to injury, the EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell was on an official visit to meet with officials in Moscow at that very moment, which caused deep embarrassment given he wasn’t so much as informed of the action to ban the European diplomats.
On Friday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov specifically addressed the possibility of cutting ties with the EU altogether amid the spiraling diplomatic crisis. “We proceed from the fact that we’re ready (for that). In the event that we again see sanctions imposed in some sectors that create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive spheres,” Lavrov said, according to Reuters.
“We don’t want to isolate ourselves from global life, but we have to be ready for that. If you want peace then prepare for war,” he said ominously.
In follow-up, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov essentially confirmed that if Brussels cuts ties first, then Moscow would swiftly do the same in comments that appeared to try to soften Lavrov’s earlier threat. “If the EU goes down that path then yes, we should be ready, because you have to be ready for the worst,” Peskov said.
Germany in response condemned the “threat” as “really disconcerting and incomprehensible,” according to a foreign ministry statement.
EU chief’s Moscow humiliation is sign of bloc disunity on Russia, say experts https://t.co/UhasTsPitC
— The Guardian (@guardian) February 11, 2021
The Kremlin earlier this month alleged a hidden ‘foreign hand’ behind the recent pro-Navalny protests which in some cases have involved fierce clashes with riot police. The demonstrations have gripped international headlines for the past multiple weekends, and the US Embassy in Moscow has appeared to be vocally supportive.
In response to allegations that German, Swedish, and Polish diplomats took part or at least encouraged the anti-Kremlin rallies, Russia’s foreign ministry cited the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 to give legal authortity to its expelling “diplomats who took part in unauthorized rallies” who have since been declared personae non grata.
Sat, 02/13/2021 – 07:35