- “We proceed from the assumption that we are ready [for that],” Lavrov replied, according to a transcript released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
- “We do not want to isolate ourselves from world life, but we must be ready for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.”
- European and Russian officials have been exchanging strong words since last week's visit to Moscow by Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief.
Russia threatened to break ties with the European Union on Friday if it dares slam it with new sanctions. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, assured that Moscow is ready to break relations with Brussels if the umbrella body, comprising of 27 member states, introduces new sanctions that cause risks in sensitive sectors of the Russian economy.
The application of new economic sanctions against the country is likely owing to the imprisonment of the country’s main opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, by the administration of President Vladimir Putin, and the police’s brutal response against the demonstrations demanding Mr. Navalny’s freedom.
The anti-corruption activist’s team has called on Western countries to target the sanctions against the inner circle of the Russian President.
The severance of ties with the EU was raised as a possibility by Minister Lavrov in an interview with the well-known host of Russian state television, Vladimir Soloviov, which was published on his YouTube channel.
The minister was asked in the interview, released by the “Soloviev Live” YouTube channel on Friday, whether Russia was heading for a “break” with the European Union.
“We proceed from the assumption that we are ready [for that],” Lavrov replied, according to a transcript released by the Russian Foreign Ministry. “We do not want to isolate ourselves from world life, but we must be ready for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.”
European and Russian officials have been exchanging strong words since last week’s visit to Moscow by Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief. During the trip, he called upon Russia to release Mr. Navalny.
However, Minister Lavrov said the difficulties between Russia and the EU predated Borrell’s visit.
“All the problems between us and the European Union started a very long time ago, and they have been essentially wearing out our patience and goodwill,” he said.
In addition, coinciding with the meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced the expulsion of three diplomats from Germany, Poland, and Sweden.
The department accused them of participating in demonstrations in support of Mr. Navalny, illegal in Russia because they did not have the required permission from the authorities.
These countries maintained that diplomats were watching. They later expelled one Russian diplomat each.
After his Moscow visit, Mr. Borrell called upon the European Parliament that the EU must take a firm stance in its relations with Russia, citing the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Belarus, and the southern Caucasus.
“It will be for the member states to decide the next step, but yes, this could include sanctions. And I will put forward concrete proposals, using the right of initiative the high representative has,” Borrell told EU lawmakers on Tuesday.
The Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was arrested at a Moscow airport upon his arrival to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.