EU to discuss sanctioning Russia over Navalny’s imprisonment

EU foreign ministers will meet today to discuss potential sanctions on Russia for its imprisonment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

EU FM Meeting

Photo: Svet EU

EU foreign ministers will meet today to discuss potential sanctions on Russia for its imprisonment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Navalny was charged with violating his parole in early February—a trumped-up charge related to his medical evacuation to Germany after being poisoned, likely by the state—and he was been sentenced to two years and eight months. His imprisonment has been internationally condemned as an attempt to silence dissidents and has prompted widespread protests across Russia. After a recent diplomatic visit to Moscow by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell failed to secure Navalny’s release, the EU is now turning to retaliatory economic measures.

Expect immediate agreement that sanctions are necessary, though the exact nature of the measures will likely take longer to establish. Russia’s Baltic neighbors support a hardline response, but Germany and France prefer a more measured approach that is likely to garner more support in the European Parliament. As passing sanctions requires unanimous support, expect Germany’s plan to prevail. Despite these efforts, the sanctions are unlikely to secure Navalny’s release. The EU has imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Russia in recent years for both its annexation of Crimea and the poisoning of Navalny in August. However, none of them have succeeded in forcing Moscow’s hand; this round is unlikely to change that.

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