Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy, said that sanctions were not the only response by the European Union to the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny in Russia, considered political.
The head of European diplomacy said on January 19 that he wanted to go to Moscow and that sanctions against Russia for the detention of the opponent Alexeï Navalny were not the only possible response of the bloc against Russia.
In addition to sanctions, we must continue to reach out
“We are not against the pressure, but the pressure must be graduated,” Josep Borrell told Reuters in an interview.
“There have been sanctions, there may be more sanctions. But the sanctions in themselves are not a political response. Sanctions are a tool. In addition to sanctions, we must continue to reach out, discuss and express our point of view, ”he explained.
Josep Borrell said he had received a permanent invitation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit Moscow and that the current situation made such a visit “more necessary than ever”.
The day before, the 27 condemned the arrest of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny and called for his “immediate” release in a statement released by Josep Borrell. “The politicization of the judicial system is unacceptable and the rights of Mr. Navalny must be respected”, denounced the 27 in their joint statement.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, countries which have traditionally maintained strained relations with Russia, have proposed that the European Union respond to the arrest of Alexey Navalny with sanctions against Moscow. “Discussions are going well between the member states” on this subject, assured Josep Borrell, who recalled that the adoption of new sanctions required the unanimity of the member states of the EU.
The subject is expected to be on the agenda for the meeting of EU foreign ministers scheduled for January 25.
Alexei Navalny, opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested on January 17 upon his arrival in Moscow from Germany, where he was treated and then observed a period of convalescence following his suspected poisoning in August in Russia . Russian prison services had announced in advance that he would be arrested for failing to comply with the conditions of a suspended prison sentence he had received in a case of embezzlement.
The European Union has already imposed economic sanctions against Russia following the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The bloc added new sanctions in October against Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin after the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny.
The Russian opponent accuses Vladimir Putin of being at the origin of his poisoning, which the Kremlin denies.
Russia, for its part, considers these requests to constitute “interference”: “It is a completely internal matter and we will not allow anyone to practice the interference,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on January 19. .