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Germany seeks new EU sanctions on Russia over Navalny death

February 19, 2024

Alexei Navalny's widow addressed an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, as Germany called for new sanctions targeting those responsible for the Russian opposition leader's death.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks into microphones at the EU Council in Brussels
German FM Annalena Baerbock says Russia should face more sanctions in light of Navalny's deathImage: DIRK WAEM/BELGA MAG/AFP/Getty Images

Germany is pressing for more European Union sanctions against Russia, German top diplomat Annalena Baerbock said Monday ahead of an EU foreign ministers' meeting that was attended by the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Navalny fell unconscious and died on Friday after a walk at the "Polar Wolf" penal colony in Kharp, about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow, Russia's prison service said.

Germany calls for sanctions, summons Russian ambassador

Baerbock said Germany would propose new sanctions against Moscow, adding that she hoped for quick approval by the 27-nation bloc.

"We have seen the brutal force with which the Russian president represses his own citizens who take to the streets to demonstrate for freedom or write about it in newspapers," Baerbock said. "We will propose new sanctions in light of the death of Alexei Navalny."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also backed imposing more sanctions.

"[EU] member states will propose sanctions for sure against those responsible," he said, adding that the person most responsible was "Putin himself." 

The ministers were already scheduled to discuss the EU's 13th package of sanctions against Russia since its February 2022 Ukraine invasion. Hungary has yet to back the new sanctions.

Germany's Foreign Ministry also announced that the Russian ambassador in Berlin had been summoned over Navalny's death.

A ministry spokesperson said in a press conference that a meeting with the Russian ambassador was to take place on Monday.

"Germany expressly demands the release of all those imprisoned in Russia for political reasons," the spokesperson said.

"It is shocking that people are being arrested in Russia for laying flowers in honor of Alexei Navalny's death."

EU's Borrell vows Putin 'will be held accountable'

Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, addressed the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday. 

"We expressed the EU's deepest condolences to Yulia Navalnaya," Borrell said in a social media post following her appearance. "Vladimir Putin and his regime will be held accountable for the death of Alexei Navalny."

Navalny's widow drew a standing ovation from the room, as she called on the EU to do more to target the Russian president's inner circle. She also warned against striking any deals with the Russian leaders.

"As Yulia said, Putin is not Russia. Russia is not Putin," Borrell added. "We will continue our support to Russia’s civil society and independent media."

rmt/nm,wmr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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