Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow prepared to break with EU

Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow prepared to break with EU

Asked if Russian Federation is heading toward a split with the European Union, Lavrov replied, "We proceed from the assumption that we are ready for that".

On Friday, Lavrov was quoted on a Foreign Ministry website as saying that Russian Federation would be ready to cut off ties with the European Union if the bloc imposed economic sanctions on it over the Navalny case and the deportation of the diplomats.

At the same time, Russian Federation must prepare for the worst and increasingly rely on its own resources, according to Mr Lavrov.

Should Europe reimpose sanctions "that pose a risk to our economy, then yes, " the minister responded to Solovyov's question about whether Moscow was heading for a break with Brussels.

"A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry called Lavrov's statement disconcerting".

A separate protest on Sunday saw around 200 people turn out in central Moscow to form a human chain in support of Navalny's wife, Yulia, and female political prisoners.

"If the European Union goes down that path then yes, we should be ready, because you have to be ready for the worst", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. The gathering came after authorities last week sentenced Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, to almost three years in prison and unleashed a crackdown on his supporters.

On 5 February, Russia deported three diplomats from Sweden, Poland and Germany for allegedly participating in unauthorized rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg on 23 January. The three European Union nations expelled a Russian diplomat each in a quid pro quo response. On Sunday, thousands of Russians took to the streets with flashlights in a show of defiance against the latest round of political repressions.

The European Union is considering targeted sanctions against Russian officials in response to Mr Navalny's jailing and police violence against protesters.

Earlier this month, Mr. Biden said the US would no longer be "rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions" and demanded Mr. Navalny's release.

Lavrov accused the West of pursuing the "aggressive containment of Russia" to punish the country for its independent foreign policy. "They wouldn't change our course for defending our national interests", Lavrov said.



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