Russia warns to cut ties with EU over sanctions...

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Russia warns to cut ties with EU over sanctions

 International Desk

 Published: 02:03 PM, 13 February 2021  

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia is ready to break off relations with the European Union (EU) if it imposes new, economically painful sanctions. 

The EU has raised the prospect of further sanctions amid a row over the treatment of the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

When an interviewer asked if Russia was heading for a "break" with the EU, Lavrov responded, "we're ready for that".

"If you want peace, prepare for war," he said. 

He said a break in ties could be triggered by EU sanctions that "create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas". 

"We don't want to isolate ourselves from world affairs, but we have to be prepared for that." He was speaking on the Russian YouTube channel Solovyov Live.

In the past week, Russia and the EU have expelled three of each other's diplomats in a tit-for-tat dispute centering on the Navalny case.

Russia went first, a week ago, saying three EU diplomats had attended an illegal pro-Navalny protest - an allegation rejected by the EU. The Russian announcement came during a visit by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell. 

This week the EU countries involved - Germany, Poland and Sweden - expelled three Russian diplomats. 

Last October the EU imposed sanctions on six top Russian officials and a Russian chemical weapons research centre, accusing them of direct involvement in the poisoning of Navalny in August. The attack with the weapons-grade nerve agent Novichok nearly killed him.

Many of President Vladimir Putin's close aides are now under EU and US sanctions, that is, asset freezes and travel bans. They date back to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014.