Navalny attack: EU imposes sanctions on Russia

The European Council has announced sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny: the research institute which allegedly produced the nerve agent will be put under sanctions and six people believed to have been involved in the attack, most of them from the country's security apparatus, will face travel bans to the EU and their assets will be frozen. Will the sanctions have any effect? Commentators are divided.

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France Inter (FR) /

First steps towards a joint foreign policy

Writing in in France Inter, columnist Pierre Haski is delighted that the 27 EU states have been able to agree on sanctions against Russia:

“The measures are limited in scope but they're primarily a political gesture, and that's also how Moscow has interpreted them. The political significance of the move lies in the EU's emerging strategic position. ... Despite the difficulties, the 27 have succeeded in speaking with one voice to Russia on the Navalny affair, as well as to Belarus and Turkey. ... We are still a long way from a common foreign policy - the long-term, no doubt ultimately unrealizable objective. Nevertheless the 27 are striving to develop a common culture of work and compromise.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Putin's servants can continue as before

The sanctions probably won't trigger concrete changes, Deutschlandfunk radio chimes in:

“It would have made a greater impression if the European Union had additionally and simultaneously sanctioned dozens of functionaries and careerists. ... There are plenty of examples of the wife and children of these loyal servants to the Kremlin flying to Paris for shopping trips or to Berlin to party. They treat themselves to a villa on a European lake and keep their money safely stashed in European accounts. If these people were deprived of their comfortable lives, they might begin to doubt that the Putin system still pays off for them. That would be a test of their loyalty. But it is difficult for the EU to take such steps in a legally watertight manner, and perhaps not even feasible. So most things will simply stay as they are.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Russia in a sulk

Echo of Moscow criticizes the stance of the Kremlin, which is now threatening to cut off direct political contact with Brussels and the EU states:

“Russia had to respond. But of all the answers, it chose the most absurd: to be offended. So now Lavrov has announced that Moscow may stop talking to Western leaders ... It is hard to imagine Russia withdrawing from all kinds of international organisations and multilateral processes, but that is what this is all about. It is simply easier to withdraw in a sulk than to answer unpleasant questions. ... It looks like the West has made the only right decision: not to bother Russia any more but let it slowly putrefy completely.”

Delfi (LT) /

For Moscow all are just puppets of the US

Russia clearly doesn't care much about relations with the EU, says Delfi:

“After Navalny's poisoning, the scales have finally tipped and Berlin has sided with London, Warsaw, Tallinn, Vilnius and other allies. ... How is Russia reacting to this? Well in fact, in much the same way it reacted to the resurrection of its citizen Navalny. In Russia's eyes, Germany has gone from being a long-standing partner to a dependent state whose steps are determined not by its own people and leaders but by foreign political technologists. A puppet of America - just like Poland and the Baltic countries. Russia's relations with the EU have been deteriorating for years, but Moscow probably doesn't believe in the future of the EU and its geopolitical influence anyway. That is why Russia is prepared to bury its relations with the EU along with any illusions.”