The EU agreed this evening to sanction Russian officials directly responsible for jailing opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia, according to German foreign minister Heiko Mass.
Today’s agreement came after France, Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries had urged the bloc to confront the Kremlin. Mass told reporters that “the EU will not be silent. The relations (with Russia) are certainly at a low – there is no other word for it.”
The EU will focus its sanctions on the people responsible for Navalny’s imprisonment, rather than sectoral sanctions against the Russian economy.
Relations between Russia and the European Union have worsened considerably in recent times.
“I am in favour of ordering the preparation of additional sanctions, of listings of specific persons. At the same time, we need to talk about how to keep up a constructive dialogue with Russia, even as relations certainly have reached a low,” Mass said.
Eight EU foreign ministers as well as several EU ambassadors met yesterday with two of Navalny’s closest allies ahead of the talks.
The EU first imposed sanctions on a series of individuals, including close Putin allies, in October of last year in response to the poising of Navalny with Novichok nerve agent.