BRUSSELS, February 7. /TASS/. The European Union may use the recently established human’s rights sanctions regime to impose more sanctions against Russia over the situation around Alexei Navalny, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell wrote on his personal blog on Sunday after a visit to Moscow.
"We will discuss these issues with my fellow EU foreign ministers [on February 22]. As ever, it will be for member states to decide the next steps, and yes, these could include sanctions. And we also have another tool in this respect, thanks to the recently approved EU human’s rights sanctions regime," he wrote.
According to the EU foreign policy chief, "human rights issues and fundamental freedoms, and in particular the case of Alexei Navalny were very much at the centre" of his visit to Moscow and his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. "At times, the discussion with my Russian counterpart reached high levels of tension, as I called for Mr. Navalny’s immediate and unconditional release, as well as for a full and impartial investigation into his assassination attempt," he wrote. "I reminded Minister Lavrov that Russia’s obligations in the field of human rights stem from international commitments it has freely assumed (i.e. the European Convention on Human Rights of the Council of Europe), and cannot therefore be discarded as interference in internal affairs."
"My team had contacts with Mr. Navalny’s close circle to signify our support. Unfortunately, I could not meet him as he was standing trial during my visit. I further expressed EU support to human rights and political freedoms by paying tribute to Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure, at the bridge where he was murdered six years ago," he recalled.
Borrell visited Russia on February 4 through 6. He tweeted after the visit that he had had "open and frank debates" on all aspects of Russia-EU relations, from the anti-coronavirus efforts, global climate change, and the situation around the Iran nuclear deal to the gaps in the positions on Ukraine, Brussel’s support to Navalny, and its opinion about Russia’s expelling European diplomats who had attended unauthorized protests in Russia.