MOSCOW – Russia is poised for a split with the European Union if the EU imposes new crippling sanctions on the dispute over treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the nation’s top diplomat, warned Friday

When asked about Moscow’s willingness to cut ties with the EU, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov replied on TV announcements that Russia does not want to be isolated but must increase its self-sufficiency in order to face potential EU sanctions

“We do not want to be isolated from international life, but we have to be prepared for it,” Lavrov said. “If you want peace, you have to prepare for war”

When asked whether Russia was heading for a split with the European Union, Lavrov replied: “We assume that we are ready for this”

He stressed the importance of economic relations with the 27 EU countries and added that Russia would continue to enter into mutually beneficial cooperation. At the same time, Russia must prepare for the worst and increasingly rely on its own resources, Lavrov said

“We need to do this in the economic realm when we see again how we have felt more than once that sanctions imposed in some areas pose risks to our economy, even in the most sensitive areas like delivery of parts and components, “added the Russian Foreign Minister

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that Russia wants to maintain normal relations with the EU, but must prepare for the worst if the bloc takes hostile measures

“If we are facing a destructive course that damages our infrastructure and interests, Russia must be prepared in advance for such unfriendly steps,” Peskov said during a call to reporters when asked for Lavrov’s comment, “We must be self-sufficient We must ensure our security in the most sensitive strategic areas and be ready to replace anything that could be withheld from us with national infrastructure in the event of madness and such unfriendly acts taking place “

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said on Friday that the EU welcomed “mutually beneficial cooperation if the other side is ready for such cooperation and dialogue,” adding that Russia has ” stated that they are not really ready to do so”Direction”

The spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, Andrea Sasse, described Lavrov’s comments as “really disturbing and completely incomprehensible to us.” “She told reporters in Berlin that Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had made Germany’s complaints against Russia clear, but also stressed that “we are interested in cooperation with Russia”

Relations between Russia and the EU have plummeted to new lows due to the arrest and imprisonment of Navalny.Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent political enemy was arrested on January 17 after returning from Germany, where he stayed for five months from the Recovered from nerve agent poisoning accused the Kremlin Russian authorities have denied allegations

Last week, a Moscow court sent Navalny to jail for two years and eight months for violating the terms of his parole while he was recovering in Germany. The parole resulted from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny found trumped up rejected and found to be illegal by the European Court of Human Rights

Navalny was back in court Friday for defaming a World War II veteran who was featured in a video last year for constitutional changes that allowed Putin’s rule to expand. Navalny called the people in the video “corrupt henchmen”, “People without a conscience” and “traitors” “He denied the defamation allegations as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to demean him and could face a fine or community service if convicted

The head of foreign affairs in the European Union, Josep Borrell, said after his visit to Russia last week that the 27-nation bloc must take a firm stand in its relations with Russia and think about new sanctions after Navalny’s prison sentence While Borrell was meeting with Lavrov, Moscow announced the expulsion of diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden to take part in protests in support of Navalny

Borrell has announced that he will table proposals for possible action against Russia when he chairs the next meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in February 22

The arrest of Navalny sparked a wave of protests across Russia that drew tens of thousands of people onto the streets in the greatest discontent in years000 people arrested across Russia Many demonstrators were fined or sentenced to between seven and 15 days in prison

The United States and the European Union have urged Russia to release Navalny and stop cracking down on protests. The Kremlin has accused them of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs and said it would not respond to Western criticism of Navalny’s conviction and hear police actions against his supporters

Lavrov accused the West of pursuing “aggressive containment of Russia” in order to punish the country for its independent foreign policy

“The sanctions would bring no results. They would not change our course in defense of our national interests,” Lavrov said

Associate press writers Daria Litvinova in Moscow, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report


World news – FI – Russia says it is ready for split if EU imposes new sanctions