EU agrees on sanctions against Russia
Some countries are in favor of sanctions, but Brussels is in favor of a phased approach
The European Union will not yet impose new sanctions on Russian citizens, despite the arrests of more than 3,000 people across Russia during Saturday’s protests in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, European diplomats report..
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who arrived in Brussels to meet with colleagues from the rest of the EU, said that “changes are brewing in Russia,” which the bloc should support, especially after Navalny was detained.
“The EU needs a very clear and decisive signal that this is unacceptable,” Landsbergis said in a video message, calling for additional sanctions against Russian citizens..
For now, however, the EU will follow a phased approach. First, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, will travel to Moscow to inform the Kremlin about the bloc’s outrage over Navalny’s arrest, two diplomatic sources said. EU countries will also insist on the release of detained pro-democracy protesters.
Earlier, the European Union imposed economic sanctions on the energy, financial and arms sectors of the Russian economy in connection with the annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as targeted sanctions against Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin, in response to the poisoning of Navalny in August.
Latvia and Estonia support the introduction of additional sanctions against Russians, and the Italian foreign minister said on Sunday that Rome is ready to support new visa and financial sanctions. Romania publicly supported sanctions on Monday.
Berlin is taking a more cautious position. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas demanded the immediate release of the protesters, but so far refrains from further comment.
Germany and France, as the leading powers of the EU, will play a central role in deciding on new sanctions.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto noted the need to conduct a “proper investigation” into the poisoning of Navalny.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the European External Action Service expressed disagreement with the recent decisions of the Russian authorities to include the Prague Center for Civil Society and the Association of Schools of Political Research at the Council of Europe in the list of “undesirable organizations”.
“The European Union is extremely concerned about the continuing attempts by the Russian authorities to reduce the space for opposition, civil society and independent expression in the country. The EU once again urges the Russian authorities to repeal the law on ‘unwanted organizations’ and bring Russian legislation in line with Russia’s obligations under European and international human rights law, “he said..
Russian Voice of America Service
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