The High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, considers that the European Union and Russia have entered a “state of confrontation” after the Foreign Ministers of the 27 decided today to apply sanctions against those who are held responsible for human rights violations in the case against the opposition Alexei Navalny and his followers. The decision has not yet materialized because a list of personalities who will be prohibited from entering European territory has not yet been drawn up, but it anticipates a period of tension but means a step that makes relations more complicated.

For now, the first reactions from Moscow have been contained. The Russian ambassador in Brussels, Vladimir Chizov, has released his statements made today to a German media in which he states that for now “Russia does not freeze any avenues of cooperation” and “we consistently and calmly suggest promoting mutually beneficial cooperation and discuss any contentious issue respectfully and openly. As soon as they find the strength and political will to leave the pedestal of their imagined exceptionalism and return to pragmatic and egalitarian cooperation, Russia-EU relations will certainly flourish again.

European ministers have decided to apply for the first time the new sanctions regime approved last December and which more precisely frames its legal scope, because these measures can always be appealed before the courts. Borrell, who was humiliated two weeks ago in a trap prepared by his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov, has also affirmed that the proposal to apply these sanctions “has been mine” and that all countries have unanimously supported it, probably due to the situation. created by your visit to Moscow. There was no criticism about my trip to Moscow. On the contrary, all Member States have supported and considered that ultimately the trip has provided good information about where Russia is standing and how we have to deal with them.

The Russian attitude has caused the EU to close ranks. The list, in a week, Borrell must present a list with the names of those personalities to whom the usual sanctions will be applied, which include, in addition to the prohibition to enter the EU, the freezing of their assets under community jurisdiction. According to the high representative, these sanctions will be approved soon. Maybe a week, but no more than that. For his part, the Russian ambassador said about the sanctions that from Moscow “we will be ready to respond” and that “in any case, the Russian side will base its actions on facts and analysis rather than on assumptions and emotions.

The list will contain people directly related to the Navalny case but not oligarchs, as requested by the followers of the imprisoned opponent because there must be a direct relationship between the person sanctioned and the facts under consideration. “If there is no link that we can prove in court, we cannot use it. This is how the rule of law works, said the High Representative. One part of the discussions included the telematic participation of the new US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, with whom the European ministers agreed to point out relations with Russia and China as a “major challenge” for both sides of the Atlantic.