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5 Feb, 2021 13:20

EU envoy plays down prospect of sanctions over Navalny jailing and backs Russian Covid-19 jab in diplomatic visit to Moscow

EU envoy plays down prospect of sanctions over Navalny jailing and backs Russian Covid-19 jab in diplomatic visit to Moscow

Brussels’ top diplomat has praised Russia’s role in the Covid-19 pandemic as part of a charm offensive during meetings with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who called for normalization of relations with the bloc.

Josep Borrell, the Spanish politician serving at the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, made the remarks at meetings in Moscow on Friday. Speaking about the Moscow-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at a press conference, he said that he wanted to “congratulate Russia on the success of this venture. This is useful for all mankind, it means that we will have more tools to fight the pandemic.”

The former Spanish foreign minister expressed hope “that now the European Medicines Agency will be able to certify this vaccine for use in EU member states.”

Also on rt.com In non-binding resolution, EU parliament calls for new anti-Russia sanctions in attempt to stop Nord Stream 2 over Navalny arrest

At the same time, Borrell sought to reassure Moscow that it was not on an imminent collision course with Brussels, despite facing condemnation from the bloc over the arrest of anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny.

“As for sanctions,” he said, “at the moment, not a single EU member state has submitted a proposal.” However, he noted that discussions would continue and could be addressed at a meeting in March.

“My visit to Moscow is part of the preparation for this discussion, since it is very important that we decide how we proceed with our relations,” he added, re-emphasizing calls for Navalny’s release.
As part of initial meetings with the EU representative, Lavrov said that a “lack of normality” in relations between Russia and the union “does not benefit anyone.”

In January, the EU parliament called for new sanctions against Moscow and its flagship Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline over the arrest of the anti-corruption activist. However, the non-binding resolution is yet to be adopted by leaders.

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