EU mulls possible sanctions, response to Russia's crackdown on Alexei Navalny and protesters

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • EU foreign ministers debated possible responses to Russia's arrest of Alexei Navalny and crackdown on protesters.
  • The diplomats met to discuss a wide range of issues, but the possibility of sanctions against Russia took centre stage.
  • Brussels is expected to hold off on further sanctions until Navalny goes to court in early February, to see the outcome.


Brussels – EU foreign ministers met on Monday to debate their response to Russia's arrest of Alexei Navalny and crackdown on demonstrators, as pressure grows to impose sanctions on the Kremlin.

The diplomats from the 27 nations are meeting in Brussels for a busy day of talks ranging from Europe's relations with new US President Joe Biden, to efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal.

But the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic Navalny, and detention of thousands of protesters, will be one of the thorniest issues.

"I think the EU needs to send a very clear and decisive message that this is not acceptable," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said as he arrived for the meeting.

European diplomats told AFP that ministers do not expect to agree on sanctions on Monday despite a push from some capitals to take a tough line.

Brussels is expected to hold off until Navalny goes to court in early February to see if the Kremlin puts him behind bars for an extended term.

Wave of protests

The anti-corruption campaigner is facing three-and-a-half years in jail for breaching the conditions of an earlier suspended sentence while recovering in Germany from a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent.

His arrest on returning to Russia unleashed a wave of protests on Saturday that saw baton-wielding riot police detain more than 3 500 people.

While sanctions appear unlikely for now, the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will face pressure to abandon a trip to Moscow pencilled in for next month.

Borrell labelled the arrests a "disproportionate use of force" and wrote on Twitter that Monday's meeting would discuss the EU's "next steps".

Brussels has already hit Russia with sanctions for annexing Crimea and fuelling the Ukraine conflict.

In October, the bloc put six senior Russian officials on an assets freeze and travel ban blacklist over the "assassination attempt" on Navalny.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 3242 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2225 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 3123 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
14.92
(+0.18)
ZAR/GBP
20.85
(+0.10)
ZAR/EUR
18.05
(+0.04)
ZAR/AUD
11.69
(-0.36)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(+0.28)
Gold
1734.53
(+0.62)
Silver
26.72
(+0.88)
Platinum
1208.00
(+1.85)
Brent Crude
63.29
(-1.13)
Palladium
2374.50
(+1.28)
All Share
68510.75
(+1.44)
Top 40
63104.70
(+1.61)
Financial 15
12568.48
(+0.90)
Industrial 25
89150.72
(+1.21)
Resource 10
70539.82
(+2.28)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo