Russia says it is “ready” to leave the European Union if the European Union imposes economic sanctions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said so Moscow Willing to sever ties with European Union If the bloc imposes “painful economic sanctions”According to excerpts from an interview published Friday on the ministry’s website and seen by Reuters.

Relations between Russia and the West are again strained due to the arrest and imprisonment of a Kremlin critic Alexey NavalnyWhich put on the table the possibility of new sanctions against the country.

Three European diplomats told Reuters on Thursday that the European Union was likely to impose a travel ban and an asset freeze on allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.Perhaps this month, after France and Germany have indicated they are ready to act.

Pressure to impose sanctions has increased since Moscow angered European countries last week by expelling German, Polish and Swedish diplomats without notifying the European Union foreign policy coordinator who was on a visit to Moscow. Paris and Berlin now say there must be an answer.

Lavrov was asked in the interview whether Moscow is now preparing to cut ties with the European Union as a whole.

“We start from the fact that we are prepared (for that). If we witness again sanctions imposed in some sectors that generate risks to our economy, including the most sensitive areas,” Lavrov said.

“We do not want to isolate ourselves from international life, but we must be prepared for it. If you want peace, then you must prepare for war“, He said.

Two people familiar with the discussions told the agency that the European Union is working on a proposal to punish Russia for Navalny’s prison. Bloomberg. The media added that this possibility will be studied at the next meeting of European Union foreign ministers, and that the 27 heads of state and government will talk about it at the March summit.

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A spokesman for the head of European diplomacy, Joseph Borrell, responded shortly after the comments. He said Moscow had “already given a clear indication” of what it wanted the future of the relationship to be.

Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in a near-life attack that he and Western governments blamed on Russian intelligence services.

On February 2, the politician was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison for breaching the terms of probation for a previously suspended fraud conviction. Other members of the international community, including the United States, condemned Navalny’s imprisonment and called for his immediate release.

Tensions escalated between Moscow and Brussels after Borrell visited the Russian capital last week, When Lavrov used a joint press conference to discredit the block, calling it an unreliable partner.

Lavrov accused Western countries of using the case as an excuse to increase pressure on Russia. “If it weren’t for Navalny, they would have found something else,” he said.

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