In response to the urging of many European leaders to impose new sanctions on Russia over poisoning opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the European Commission has warned that such a move will only be possible after an investigation reveals who is responsible for the attack. Moscow continues to deny responsibility, pointing out that Berlin, which reported the poisoning on Wednesday, has not yet provided any evidence. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said it is a scam to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin not to intervene in Belarus plagued by anti-government protests.
On Wednesday, the German government announced that Novichok, a nerve-paralytic substance developed in the former Soviet Union, was undoubtedly used to poison Navalny. The report provoked critical reactions to Moscow’s address. Among other things, the ambassadors of NATO member countries will discuss the case in Brussels on Friday.
EC spokesman Peter Stano said today that further sanctions by the European Union could come when the investigation reveals who is responsible for Navalny’s poisoning. According to him, Russia must ensure independent research and bring the perpetrators to justice. Stano added that the EU would respond based on the next steps of Moscow.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has again denied Russia’s responsibility, expressing astonishment at what could justify anti-Russian sanctions connected with Navalny.
He reiterated that Moscow was interested in finding out “the causes of what happened to the Berlin patient.” He also reiterated that doctors at the hospital in Omsk, where Navalny was unconsciously hospitalized before being transported to the Berlin Charity clinic, found no signs of poisoning.
President Lukashenko of Belarus, who is facing mass protests in the country and is counting on Putin to help him as a last resort, is clear about the whole matter. He said the entire thing was a fraud organized by the West to “discourage Putin from poking his nose into Belarusian affairs.” Lukashenko claims that he came to this conclusion based on an allegedly intercepted interview between “representatives of Warsaw and Berlin.”
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) today called it a highly worrying suspicion that a nerve agent poisoned Navalny. Poisoning any person with such a substance can be considered the use of a banned chemical weapon, the organization warned.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called Russia a “hostile regime” because of the case. He did not name the country directly, but it was clear from his statement. “Georgia, 2008. Crimea and Donbas since 2014. MH17. Salisbury 2018. Berlin 2019. Navalny 2020. How many strong warnings do we need to finally realize that we have something to do with the hostile regime?” recalled on Twitter the events in which Moscow is accused of participating. These include the war with Georgia, the occupation and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea and the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, the shooting down of a Malaysian MH17 aircraft over separatist-controlled Donbas, the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Britain, last year’s murder of Chechen Zelimchan Chang Berlin and the current poisoning of Navalny.
“Dialogue, partnership, compromise – these are foreign words for them. It is time to draw conclusions from this,” the Polish Prime Minister added.
Norbert Röttgen, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federal Assembly, spared hard to address Moscow and would like to replace Angela Merkel in Chancellor’s office. According to him, Putin’s regime despises human lives, which is why the case of Navalny’s poisoning demands a clear and strong European response. In this context, he questioned the early completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which, according to Röttgen, would only confirm Putin to continue such a policy. The pipeline is to bring natural gas from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea.