EU diplomatic sources say the EU foreign minister has agreed to new sanctions against Russia following the imprisonment of regime critic Alexei Navalny.
The decision was made during a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, sources said.
Foreign Minister Joseph Porrell announced after a recent visit to Russia that he would introduce new sanctions. Ministers were expected to support this, despite differing views on EU sanctions. Poland and the Baltic states are one of the driving forces.
With the agreement of the ministerial meeting, the EU can undertake the task of selecting tools and finding out who is subject to sanctions. This would mean closing accounts and travel restrictions for persons incarcerated in the Navy.
Tried to kill with nerve agent
The regime critic and opposition politician were jailed shortly after returning to Russia in January. He then spent several months in Germany, where he was treated for poisoning last summer.
Many Western experts have determined that he was exposed to the Russian neurotoxin Novitsjok. Russian officials have denied any involvement in the assassination attempt.
The European Union has repeatedly called for Navalny’s release.
The EU is expected to use its new licensing tool for human rights abuses – often referred to as the EU’s Magnitsky Act, after another Russian corruption hunter, Sergei Magnitsky, died in prison in 2009.
Russia has threatened to retaliate if the EU imposes new sanctions.
The country has already granted permission for the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine.
Met with delegates
Several of the ministers met with Navalny’s representatives on Sunday.
– We need information about the real situation of those who oppose the regime. It is best to talk to them directly, so Lithuania has taken the initiative to meet with opposition representatives in Brussels, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabriel Lundsbergis said before a meeting with supporters of the corruption hunt.
Leonid Volkov, head of Navalny’s regional network and currently living in Lithuania, was joined by another close supporter, Ivan Zhtanov.