Russia has said it would retaliate in case the European Union imposes new sanctions on Moscow over the sentence of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
In January, tens of thousands of Russians rallied for two consecutive weekends against President Vladimir Putin’s 20-year rule and demanded the release of Navalny, who was sentenced to nearly three years in prison last week.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier this week said he would propose the bloc impose new sanctions on Russia, as he blasted the imprisonment of Navalny and the crackdown.
Borrell made the comments during an address to the European Parliament after a chastening visit to Russia last week, during which Moscow announced the shock expulsion of three European diplomats.
Moscow had, last week, announced the expulsion of diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden during the rare meeting in Moscow between Borrell and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
As a result, Navalny’s supporters called on the EU to sanction the moneymen they accuse of protecting Putin’s wealth and financing his regime.
The EU’s ties with Russia have been tense since Moscow seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and fuelled the war in eastern Ukraine.