Brussels (Brussels Morning) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow is prepared to cut its ties to the EU if it finds itself a target for painful economic sanctions, Reuters reported.
Relations between Russia and the EU have hit a low point following last week’s visit of EU High Representative Josep Borrell to Moscow, which was widely perceived as both a failure and a humiliation of the EU’s top envoy.
Russia refused the bloc’s demands to release jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny and to put a stop to the violent crackdown on protests calling for his release, as well as reportedly showing no interest in opening a dialogue with the EU in the search for common ground that would move the two sides beyond the current issues causing friction between them.
Borrell’s return to Brussels prompted fresh calls to impose new sanctions on Russia. Reuters cites three EU diplomats as saying that the bloc was very likely to introduce travel bans and asset freezes on allies of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Asked whether Moscow was moving towards severing its ties with the EU, Lavrov answered that Russia is ready to do so. “We don’t want to isolate ourselves from world affairs, but we have to be prepared for that,” said Lavrov. “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
The EU Council of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to meet on 22 February and discuss imposing new sanctions on Russia. Member-states remain divided on the issue of the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, the most obvious target for new sanctions.
Poland and the Baltic states are calling for the pipeline construction to be stopped as a response to Russian transgressions, while Germany insists the issue is economical, and should be kept strictly separate from politics.