After the latest revelations in the Alexei Navalny case, Russia is now striking back. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow complained to representatives of EU countries and imposed sanctions.
In response to the EU sanctions for poisoning Russian oppositionist Alexej Navalny, Russia has imposed entry bans on representatives of the German government apparatus. This was announced on Tuesday to the Chargé d’affaires of the German Embassy in Moscow, Beate Grzeski, during a conversation in the Russian Foreign Ministry, as the German Press Agency learned from the Foreign Office in Berlin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the punitive measures in November. The names of the persons concerned were not disclosed. You will only find out about the sanction when you enter Russia.
Navalny is said to have been poisoned in August with a chemical nerve agent developed in Russia by the Novichok group. For this reason, the EU had imposed sanctions against, among others, the first deputy head of the presidential administration, Sergei Kirijenko, the head of the domestic intelligence service Alexander Bortnikow and two deputy defense ministers.
“Germany is the locomotive for sanctions”
Lavrov announced the countermeasures at a press conference in mid-November: “Because Germany was the locomotive for the EU sanctions in connection with Navalny and because the sanctions affect senior staff in the Russian presidential administration, our answer will be mirrored.” He had also announced sanctions against France. Representatives from France and Sweden also took part in the conversation at the Moscow Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.
During the conversation at the Foreign Ministry, the German chargé d’affaires was only informed that the entry bans are related to the EU sanctions. “Further details were not disclosed,” said the Foreign Office. It is common practice on the Russian side that the names are not disclosed. The EU, however, had named the names. Russia had already responded to sanctions by the EU and other countries following a poison attack on former double agent Sergej Skripal in Great Britain with similar countermeasures in 2018. At that time it was about the expulsion of diplomats.
The incident has an international dimension
“While this pattern of Russian countermeasures is known from the past, the Federal Government believes that it remains unjustified,” said the Foreign Office. “The incident is not a bilateral case, but remains a case of international dimension because of the breach of international law involving the use of a chemical nerve agent.” The Federal Foreign Office again called on Russia to clarify the case. “So far, Russia has shown no willingness to do this,” it said.
The EU punitive measures against Russia over the Navalny case include entry bans and property freezes. In addition, Europeans are no longer allowed to do business with those affected. Also listed is the Russian state research institute for organic chemistry and technology, which is said to have developed the warfare agent. Russia always emphasizes that all state Novichok stocks have been destroyed, but that the recipe has long been known in the West as well.