The German Foreign Ministry has described Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments that Russia is ready to sever ties with the European Union if the bloc imposes sanctions on Moscow as “shocking.”
“The statements are disturbing and incomprehensible,” Stephen Seibert, a spokesman for the ministry, told a news conference in Berlin.
A spokesman for the ministry quoted Foreign Minister Heiko Massi as saying that he was talking about additional sanctions, but stressed the importance of dialogue with Russia.
Relations between the EU and Russia have been strained to the point where Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to life in prison. The union plans to consider new sanctions.
According to Reuters, European diplomats say that this month the EU is likely to impose travel restrictions and freeze assets of President Vladimir Putin’s allies.
The issue of imposing sanctions has become even more urgent after Moscow expelled diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden in the wake of the visit of Joseph Borrell, a leading EU diplomat and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in Moscow. This step was responded to accordingly by the EU countries.
In an interview on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sergei Lavrov was asked whether Russia was going to sever ties with the European Union.
“We are coming out of the fact that (for this) we are ready. “If we look again at the imposition of sanctions in certain sectors, which puts our economy at risk,” Lavrov said.
“We do not want to be isolated from global life, but we must be prepared for that. “If you want peace, you have to prepare for war,” Lavrov said.
The Kremlin later opted for a softer interpretation of the comment, saying Russia wanted to improve relations with the EU, but that Moscow should be prepared for Brussels to sever ties.