E.U. Condemns Arrest of Navalny and Supporters however Takes No Motion But

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E.U. Condemns Arrest of Navalny and Supporters however Takes No Motion But

BRUSSELS — Regardless of strain from some European Union international locations on Monday to sanction Russia additional after the arrest of the Kremlin critic Aleksei A. Navalny and 1000’s of his supporters, the bloc’s high overseas coverage official will go forward with a go to to Moscow early subsequent month and meet with Russian officers first.

The official, Josep Borrell Fontelles, will press the Russian authorities to launch Mr. Navalny, in line with diplomats in Brussels, and if not, new sanctions are attainable. The choice got here throughout a uncommon, in-person assembly of the European Union’s 27 overseas ministers in Brussels.

Mr. Borrell’s journey to fulfill together with his Russian counterpart, International Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, is anticipated after Feb. 2, when Mr. Navalny faces a courtroom listening to that might ship him to jail for a number of years. His supporters have referred to as for individuals to take to the streets once more on Sunday, two days earlier than the listening to.

In a information convention, Mr. Borrell mentioned the overseas ministers had condemned the Russian crackdown on Mr. Navalny and his supporters and referred to as for his or her launch. He mentioned he can be happy to fulfill Mr. Navalny, and his state of affairs can be a subject of dialogue throughout his go to, however the journey was primarily to debate strategic relations with Russia earlier than a summit of European leaders in March.

European leaders are “able to react’’ and to behave “in line with circumstances,’’ Mr. Borrell mentioned. Whereas the overseas ministers differed about how to reply to Moscow, there have been no concrete proposals made, so there was no must take choices now, he mentioned.

Tens of 1000’s of Russians rallied for Mr. Navalny within the streets of greater than 100 Russian cities final Saturday within the greatest demonstrations the nation had seen since at the least 2017. A number of thousand have been arrested and typically overwhelmed, bringing protests from the brand new Biden administration in addition to from European international locations.

The European diplomats mentioned imposing contemporary sanctions on Russia on Monday after strain from a number of capitals for a troublesome line, however determined to attend to see what occurs to Mr. Navalny and the result of Mr. Borrell’s go to.

In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on six Russian officers and a state analysis institute over the poisoning of Mr. Navalny in August with Novichok, a lethal nerve agent created in Russia in the course of the Soviet period.

Within the newest signal of how Mr. Navalny’s marketing campaign has shaken the Kremlin, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday took the bizarre step of responding personally. Mr. Putin denied an in depth report by Mr. Navalny and his staff that was launched final week, after he was jailed, in regards to the president’s purported “palace” on the Black Sea. The video has been considered greater than 86 million instances on YouTube, underscoring the Kremlin’s vulnerability on the web, which is usually uncensored in Russia.

“Nothing that’s described as my property there ever belonged to me or my shut family members, and by no means did,” Mr. Putin mentioned in a televised video convention with college college students. The video alleged that the huge, lavish property, mentioned to incorporate vineyards and an underground hockey rink, was managed by buddies and shut associates of Mr. Putin who have been holding it for him.

Mr. Putin mentioned he had no time to observe Mr. Navalny’s 113-minute movie in full, however had considered excerpts. He dismissed it by quoting a line from “The Twelve Chairs,” an early Soviet novel: “Women, that is boring.” Mr. Putin has used the road at the least as soon as earlier than — to dismiss U.S. allegations of a chemical weapons assault by the Syrian authorities in 2017.

Threats of latest sanctions are positive for use by Russia’s state media to explain Mr. Navalny as a plant or device of the West. Over the weekend, tv information reviews prominently featured tweets by Mr. Borrell and different Western officers as proof that Mr. Navalny was working towards Russian pursuits.

On Monday, the Russian International Ministry summoned the USA ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, to criticize the American response to the pro-Navalny protests. Maria Zakharova, the International Ministry’s spokeswoman, mentioned that the assist that the State Division had voiced for Mr. Navalny amounted to “direct interference within the home affairs of our nation.”

The brand new consideration on Russia extends to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, owned by the Russian state-owned power firm Gazprom and 94 % completed, that the USA is attempting to cease by sanctions imposed on corporations serving to to put the final miles of pipes. The Biden administration has confirmed Washington’s opposition to the pipeline on the grounds that it advantages the Russian state, hurts the revenue of Ukraine and Poland and makes Germany extra depending on Russian pure gasoline.

The Russians are getting ready to put pipes close to Denmark with Russian-owned ships, whereas Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany continues to insist that the pipeline is a industrial enterprise and can go forward, regardless of the poisoning and arrest of Mr. Navalny.

Berlin is hoping to resolve the issue with Washington by negotiations with the Biden administration, however it’s attainable {that a} resolution will embrace at the least a brief suspension of the venture.

The European overseas ministers are additionally underneath strain to additional sanction Turkey for its violation of waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus with warships and a ship designed to probe for pure gasoline. They’ve held off as Germany has tried to get talks going between Turkey and Greece on the dispute, which turned dangerously heated final summer season and stays risky.

Because the European ministers met on Monday, diplomats from Greece and Turkey have been additionally assembly in Istanbul for the primary talks in 5 years geared toward resolving their longstanding dispute over sea borders. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who had a very good relationship with former President Donald J. Trump, can be searching for to determine higher relations with the Biden administration.

Whilst they sit all the way down to talks, officers disagree on what they are going to be discussing. Greece needs the dialog restricted to the delineation of the international locations’ continental cabinets and corresponding power rights — the main target of final summer season’s dispute.

However Turkey needs different areas of disagreement on the desk, too, together with the standing of some islands within the Aegean and the rights of Greece’s Muslim minority in Thrace.

At his information convention, Mr. Borrell additionally mentioned the ministers anticipated Britain to grant full diplomatic standing to E.U. representatives and that they appeared ahead to working with the brand new Biden administration.

“Ensure we are going to coordinate a lot, significantly better than up to now,’’ he mentioned.

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels and Anton Troianovsky from Moscow. Reporting was contributed by Melissa Eddy from Berlin and Niki Kitsantonis from Athens.