The European Union in its latest response to the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny warned Tuesday that Russia could soon face new sanctions from the bloc.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell said in an address to the European Parliament that the treatment of Navalny shows the Russian government under President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinErdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system EU 'denounces' Russian malicious cyber activity aimed at member states Navalny knocks Apple, Google for removing voting app MORE “is going down a worrisome authoritarian route,” according to Reuters.
“There seems to be almost no room for the development of democratic alternatives ... they are merciless in stifling any such attempts,” Borrell said. He added that he believes the Kremlin views democracy as an “existential threat” and that “Russia seeks to divide us.”
The EU official added that while it is ultimately up to EU member states to determine the best course of action moving forward, new targeted sanctions against the Kremlin are on the table.
Moscow expelled three EU diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden as Borrell traveled to Russia last week for a visit. The three targeted European countries responded by expelling a Russian diplomat assigned to each of their respective nations.
Ann Linde, Sweden's foreign minister, said her country’s expulsion of a Russian diplomat was a “clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only performing his duties.”
Moscow's foreign agency called the European countries’ move "unjustified and unfriendly," adding that the Russian officials “were not the initiators of the collapse in relations," according to The Guardian.
Reuters reported that Borrell said he learned about Russia’s expulsions via social media during his Moscow visit, with many EU lawmakers accusing the Russian government of aiming to humiliate Borrell as a message to the EU official to not get involved in Russia’s domestic affairs.
Tensions between the EU and Russia have continued to escalate since Navalny's poisoning and subsequent recovery in a German hospital. The U.S. and other nations have blamed Russia’s Federal Security Service for Navalny’s poisoning, though Russia has repeatedly denied involvement.
Russia has been the subject of further condemnation after a court last week sentenced Navalny to a 32-month prison term after prosecutors argued the opposition leader violated the conditions of his 2014 parole by not checking in while recovering from his poisoning.
President BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE’s administration last week said it was “deeply concerned” by Navalny’s sentencing, with Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenDefense policy bill would require 'forever chemical' testing at military sites Biden criticizes treatment of Haitians as 'embarrassment' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs MORE committing the administration to coordinating “closely with our allies and partners to hold Russia accountable for failing to uphold the rights of its citizens.”