The European Union is poised to blacklist six people and one entity in Russia over the attempted murder of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
EU member-state envoys in Brussels cleared the way on Wednesday for bloc-wide asset freezes on the Russian officials and the organisation as well as travel bans on the individuals, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified before a public announcement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that his country will retaliate against the move with reciprocal sanctions.
The identities of the people and entity targeted by the EU will be disclosed when the sanctions take effect, probably on Thursday, according to another official for the 27-nation bloc. The plan to impose penalties is based on a German-French proposal that EU foreign ministers agreed to recently.
The go-ahead for the EU sanctions comes a week after the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that a military-grade Novichok nerve agent was used to poison Navalny in Russia on August 20. He was then flown to Germany for treatment. The case marks the latest in a series of EU-Russia disputes including the 2014 annexation by Moscow of the Ukrainian region of Crimea, the 2018 poisoning of a former Russian double agent on UK soil, and a disputed Belarusian presidential election.
The Russian government says it has no evidence that Navalny was poisoned and officials have called the case a set-up by western security services.