Foreign ministers back new Russia sanctions following Navalny’s death

EU to sanction 30 individuals and entities "responsible for the murder" of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Josep Borrell says.

Foreign ministers back new Russia sanctions following Navalny’s death

EU foreign ministers gave their political backing to new sanctions on Monday following the February death of Russian dissident leader Alexei Navalny in an Arctic penal colony.

“We agreed to sanctions to those responsible for the murder of Alexei Navalny, 30 individuals and entities under the U.S. global human rights sanctions regime,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign affairs official, told reporters after a meeting of ministers in Brussels.

The sanctions — which take the form of asset freezes and travel bans — come the day after President Vladimir Putin celebrated a landslide win in Russia’s sham presidential election March 15-17.

Putin chose the moment to make his first public remarks on Navalny’s death, claiming in a victory press conference Sunday night that he’d agreed to swap the opposition leader in a prisoner exchange days before he died in an Arctic jail.

“We can only consider that this election has been taken in the middle of a systematic repression of the voters and we have to condemn the illegal holding of these so-called elections in the territories of Ukraine that Russia has temporarily occupied,” Borrell said.

The hope is that the sanctions will be technically agreed in the coming days, possibly as early as Wednesday at a meeting of EU top ambassadors.

The so-called written procedure — whereby EU countries get a deadline to object — will then determine the outcome, meaning the additions could be finalized fairly quickly.