The European Union (EU) foreign ministers agreed this Monday to impose new sanctions on Russia.
The Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, announced that the heads of diplomacy of the European Union had reached a “political agreement” in relation to the new sanctions on Russia. It is now up to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, to make a proposal regarding the individuals to be sanctioned.
According to the weekly Expresso, the sanctions involve those responsible for the arrest, conviction and harassment of the Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, as well as restrictions on the freedom of demonstration and protest of the Russian population.
Concrete sanctions proposals have to be submitted for approval by the Council of the European Union, and the process is expected to be completed within a week.
In a press conference after the summit that brought together the set of foreign ministers, Santos Silva said that “manifestly, Russia is in a very aggressive attitude towards the EU and the relationship between the two blocs is at one of the lowest points ever ”.
Josep Borrell also stated that “there is a shared understanding within the Council that Russia is drifting towards an authoritarian and to move away from Europe“, Quotes the same newspaper.
According to Expresso, the High Representative of the European Union also said that the set of ministers of the 27 agreed on three lines of action in the relationship to have with the Kremlin at this time: “Retaliate”, when Russia violates international law and human rights , “Contain”, when increasing pressure on the EU, namely through disinformation or cyber attacks, and “dialogue”, on matters in which Europe considers it in its interest to do so.
Santos Silva also said that, despite the sanctions, this does not prevent the EU from remaining “interested” in “communicating with Russia”, namely “in matters of common interest”, in which collaboration with Moscow is “indispensable”, with the head of Portuguese diplomacy listing “non-proliferation” and “arms control”.
The new sanctions will be similares to Lei Magnitsky, in force in the United States, which punishes human rights violations and, to be applied in the European Union, will be a debut in the community space. These repressive measures consist of banning sanctioned persons from entering European territory, as well as freezing their assets in the EU.
Russia considers EU decision “illegal”
On the same day, in reaction to the European Union’s announcement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered the decision “illegal” and “disappointing”.
“We consider categorically unacceptable the constant demands illegal and absurd for the release of a citizen of the Russian Federation who was convicted of economic crimes by a Russian court, in the territory of our country and in accordance with Russian law, “says the note from the Ministry, cited by the Russian agency Sputnik News.
European requirements are “an interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state”, the note from the ministry led by Serguei Lavrov adds.
On Saturday, a Russian court found Navalny guilty of “defamation” for a World War II veteran, hours after he was sentenced, on appeal, to two and a half years in prison in another case.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office requested, in the case of defamation, a fine of 950 thousand rubles (about 10,600 euros) and demanded that the suspended sentence be converted into a prison sentence.
Russian justice also confirmed an effective prison sentence for Nalvalny, for violating judicial control measures, but reduced his sentence by a month and a half, so the activist will serve a sentence of two and a half years in prison.
In addition to the political agreement reached this Monday for the adoption of sanctions, the poisoning of the Russian opponent had already motivated the introduction of restrictive measures in October 2020.
At the time, six individuals and one entity who were “involved in the attempted murder” had been sanctioned, banned from traveling to Europe and having their assets frozen in European space.
This weekend, in an interview with the German newspaper The world, Russia’s representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, said that the country was “Soon to reply” should the bloc choose to impose new sanctions.
Currently, the EU maintains sanctions against Russia also because of the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine.