Russia vows in-kind response to EU sanctions over Navalny
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that Moscow will respond in kind to the European Union’s sanctions over the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Navalny, a corruption investigator and longtime foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is in Germany recovering from what German authorities said was a nerve agent poisoning. This week, EU foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions on Russian officials and organizations blamed over the incident.
“The Germans are not planning to provide any facts, despite all international and legal obligations. We respond in kind, this is diplomatic practice,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview Wednesday.
Navalny fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia, and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later.
Last week, tests conducted at labs designated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that the poison used on Navalny was Soviet-era Novichok. Navalny asserted that his poisoning couldn’t have been ordered without Putin’s involvement, an accusation the Kremlin vehemently denied.
At Monday’s meeting in Luxembourg, France and Germany urged their EU partners to freeze the assets of those suspected of involvement and ban them from traveling in Europe under sanctions to combat the use and spread of chemical weapons.
The move elicited harsh reaction from Moscow. Lavrov on Tuesday said Russia might freeze its contacts with the 27-nation bloc, as officials there “don’t understand the need for mutually respectful dialogue.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday echoed this sentiment. “The Kremlin has always advocated resuming and continuing a constructive dialogue based on mutual respect. But you know, ... one can’t tango alone,” Peskov said.