The head of European diplomacy stressed that the Russian leadership seeks to cause a rift between European countries
European diplomatic chief Josep Borrel warned Moscow on Tuesday that it could face new sanctions over the arrest of opposition activist Alexei Navalny and called President Vladimir Putin’s government “ruthless,” authoritarian, and afraid of democracy.
Borrell said his recent visit to Moscow reinforced his view that Russia seeks to distance itself from Europe and cause a rift among Western countries.
“The Russian leadership is following an alarmingly authoritarian path,” Borrel said, who called on Russian authorities to release Navalny and tried in vain to visit him in prison.
“There seems to be almost no space left in the country for the development of democratic alternatives … they ruthlessly suppress any such attempts,” Borrel said in a speech at the European Parliament. He also opined that the Kremlin views democracy as an “existential threat.”
“Russia is trying to cause a rift between us,” he added.
Borrell said targeted sanctions against Russia are being considered, but that decision would be left to EU member states.
Meanwhile, Western diplomats said Tuesday that two of Navalny’s associates had called on them to impose sanctions on top Russian officials and businessmen.
Vladimir Ashurkov and Leonid Volkov made the call on Monday during a video conference with representatives of the European Union, Britain, the United States, Canada, and Ukraine.