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The trap the Kremlin set for Josep Borrell during his recent visit to Moscow, he has sparked a new consensus among EU countries on the need to harden your position towards Russia. “Maybe without what happened in Moscow there would have been no unanimity to decide on sanctions in the Navalny case. Undoubtedly, the attitude of the Russians has shown to all the Member States, those who were already convinced and those who still doubted, that today Russia has adopted a confrontational position “, Borrell admitted at a press conference.

The Foreign Ministers of the Twenty-seven have unanimously approved during a meeting held this Monday in Brussels a new round of sanctions against Russia. The new restrictive measures will apply specifically to senior officials close to Vladimir Putin directly involved in the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of the opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

The list of those affected will be published within a week, once the necessary bureaucratic procedures have been completed, the head of EU diplomacy has announced. The Twenty-seven will use the new global sanctions regime against human rights violations. Those affected will be banned from entering the EU and any accounts they may have in a Member State will be frozen.

The draft of possible sanctions includes only four leaders of the Putin regime, as the agency has advanced Reuters. This is Alexander Bastrykin, responsible for investigating major crimes and reporting directly to Putin; Igor Krasnov, Russian Attorney General; Viktor Zolotov, who directs the National Guard; and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the federal prison service.

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Borrell has avoided confirming these names, but has clarified that none of the Russian oligarchs who support Putin are on the list, despite the fact that Navalny himself and his followers have requested it. “Maybe we don’t like the oligarchs, but we have to show that the people who have been sanctioned have a direct participation in the fact that we want to sanction“, insisted the head of European diplomacy.

Support for Borrell

After the barrage of criticism in the European Parliament for his performance in Moscow, Borrell has assured that during Monday’s meeting no Foreign Minister has questioned his trip and that only “less than 10%” of MEPs have censured him. For her part, the Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, has spoken of a “unanimous and closed support of the Twenty-seven to the High Representative“.

At the press conference in the Russian capital, Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the EU an unreliable partner and equated Navalny’s situation with that of Carles Puigdemont and the prisoners of the process. Borrell not only did not refute him, but also ended up criticizing the United States and praising the Sputnik V vaccine, which has not even requested authorization from the European Medicines Agency.

“The ministers have unanimously interpreted the recent responses and actions of Russia as a clear signal that they are not interested in cooperation with the EU. On the contrary, they seek confrontation and disconnection from the EU,” said Monday the head of community diplomacy. “Russia is drifting towards an authoritarian state and away from Europe“, he assures.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry has once again replied to Borrell with references to protests and riots in Spain in protest of the conviction of rapper Pablo Hasél. “Josep Borrell’s attempts to teach Russia lessons from the Navalny case would sound particularly appropriate from the streets of Barcelona “, has written on his Twitter account.

The Foreign Minister has once again replied to Lavrov that “the situation of democracy in Spain is quite different from the situation of democracy in Russia“because our country is a” full democracy. “Despite the tension between Brussels and Moscow, González Laya continues to defend that it is not necessary to” break all the bridges “, but rather that an attempt should be made to maintain dialogue on issues such as the fight against climate change, the fight against the coronavirus or the nuclear agreement on Iran.

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