For some time, Russia’s relations with the European Union have become increasingly tense. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov issued a “warning of severance of diplomatic relations” last week, and EU officials recently revealed that the EU plans to impose new “sanctions” on Russia in the near future. Russia-EU relations seem to have dropped to freezing point.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Zakharova responded on February 18 to the deadlock in Russian-European relations and Lavrov’s “warning of severance of diplomatic relations”.
She said that Russia was ready to break relations with the EU, and if the EU finally made a decision to sever diplomatic relations, Russia would accept the EU’s choice.
However, Zakharova stressed that severing diplomatic relations is by no means an option sought by Russia, and Russia has always endorsed equal, mutually beneficial and respectful cooperation.
Her speech was consistent with Lavrov’s statement on the 15th, who said that Russia was ready to deal with any situation and chose to be in the hands of the European Union. If the EU believes that it needs to resume relations, Russia will also be willing to resume relations between the two sides.
“Russia is ready to sever diplomatic relations with the European Union”
According to a report by Ruta News Agency and Russian Satellite News Agency on February 18 local time, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Zakharova said on the same day that Russia was ready to sever diplomatic relations with the European Union.
If the EU finally decides to cut off diplomatic relations, Russia will accept the EU’s choice.
“If they [EU] declare the break of diplomatic relations tomorrow, we will hear and accept it, but it is the choice they make, not our choice.” Zakharova said.
Zakharova stressed that this situation is by no means what Russia seeks, which has always been in favor of equal and mutually beneficial cooperation: “For decades, our position has been frank, open and transparent…
Our position is very clear: we are in favor of cooperation, but it should be equal, mutually beneficial and respectful… should be based on international Law and the Charter of the United Nations.”
However, she also said that the Russian government is very interested in developing economic and trade relations with the European Union.
Once the epidemic is over, Russia will continue to work hard to relax the visa system.
On February 12, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov mentioned in an interview with the media that Russia would be ready to break relations with the European Union if the EU imposes sanctions that pose risks in Russia’s sensitive economic fields.
However, Russian Presidential Press Secretary Peskov later stressed that Lavrov’s statement does not mean that Russia will take the initiative to severe diplomatic relations with the European Union.
Russia-EU relations continue to cool down
For some time, Russian-EU relations have continued to cool down, and many rounds of diplomatic disturbances have broken out between the two sides around the Navalny issue of Russian opposition figures.
Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for misappropriation of public funds, and the probation expired on December 30 last year.
Last August, he suddenly fell into a coma on his way to Moscow, and then flew to Germany for treatment.
He claimed that he had been “attacked by nerve agents”, and the Western countries then pointed the finger at the Kremlin.
On January 17 this year, the Russian Federal Prison Service arrested Navalny after he flew back to Moscow from Germany for violating probation regulations on many occasions.
On February 2, the Moscow court sentenced Navalny to 3.5 years’ imprisonment and suspended sentence after trial. This sentence attracted opposition from France, Germany and other EU countries.
On 5 February, Russia announced that it would disqualify three EU diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden, accusing them of participating in “illegal demonstrations” in January without authorization and classifying them as “unpopular people”.
Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief who was visiting Russia at the time and calling for the release of Navalny, expressed “strong condemnation”.
Germany, Poland and Sweden responded in retaliation on the 8th, expelling a Russian diplomat in their respective countries.
Russia immediately reprimanded the actions of the three countries as “unfounded and unfriendly” and a continuation of Western interference in Russia’s internal affairs. Zakharova stressed that Russia’s expulsion of three diplomats was “reasonable and factual”.
EU Threat Sanctions
After several rounds of diplomatic debates, the EU side did not seem to intend to give in, but turned its attention to the “sanctions” card. After completing his visit to Russia, Borel claimed that the EU would take “sanctions” against Russia on the Navalny issue.
Reuters and Euronews quoted anonymous EU diplomatic officials on the 18th as saying that the EU will introduce more “sanctions measures” before the EU summit on March 25.
The EU may include some Russian officials and entities related to the Navarine case on the “sanctions list”, and it is not clear whether Russian business giants with some influence will be on the list, the diplomatic officials revealed.
Sanctions will follow the example of the United States, and may impose assets freezes, travel bans and other measures on listed individuals and entities.
However, according to Euronews, there are still large differences between EU countries on the issue of sanctions against Russia: several countries led by Poland and the Baltic states insist on tough stances and demand that the European Council immediately impose restrictive measures; while France, Germany, Greece and other countries with closer relations with Russia It is hoped to avoid extreme measures and “keep communication smooth” while sanctioning.
The soon-to-be-completed gas pipeline “Nord Steam 2” project is of great significance to both Russia and the European Union, which has also become a thorny issue on the Russian-EU agenda.
According to the report, no EU country has mentioned the issue of “Nord Steam 2” in the discussion.
News Europe pointed out that the EU’s foreign affairs decisions require the unanimous consent of the member states, so it is impossible to predict the EU’s next action, and the votes of member states may also slow down or even completely hinder the relevant “sanctions” action.
Russian Foreign Minister: Choice in the hands of the European Union
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made a tough statement on the 12th on the cooling of Russian-European relations and the possible sanctions imposed by the European Union.
According to a previous report by the Russian satellite news agency, Lavrov said in an interview with the media on the same day that Russia was ready to deal with possible EU sanctions: “If we see once again that sanctions pose risks to sensitive areas of the economy, we will be ready.
We don’t want to disconnect ourselves from the global connection, but we must be prepared for it. If you want peace, be prepared for war.”
However, Russian Presidential Press Secretary Peskov took the initiative to “cool down” the tough statement later that day, emphasizing that Lavrov’s statement does not mean that Russia will take the initiative to sever relations with the European Union.
According to the report, Lavrov has previously pointed out that the current Russian-European relations are not normal, and this “unhealthy” relationship is not good for anyone.
On February 15, Lavrov once again mentioned Russian-EU relations after meeting with the Finnish Foreign Minister, emphasizing that Russia’s relations with EU member states have no problems, and that it is the EU side that has damaged Russian-EU relations: “Choose in the hands of the EU, if the EU finally believes that it is necessary to restore relations and subvert and disrupt the relationship between the two sides, We will also be willing to restore the relationship.