Germany hit back at the Russian Federation on Friday after pledging to sanction German and French officials in the midst of an argument over the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
European Union member states agreed to impose sanctions on six Russian officials in October, including the head of the FSB’s internal security agency, arguing that the Kremlin security services must be complicit in the fate of the 44-year-old anti-corruption activist. The EU has said that this institute, which was responsible for the destruction of Soviet-era chemical weapons, was years ago involved in the development and production of chemical weapons, including the nerve agent that Novichok would have used for poison Navalny.
Lavrov said the Russian Federation would soon announce the retaliatory measures it has taken against senior French and German officials in the context of tit-for-tat poisoning-related sanctions.
Navalny, a corruption investigator and longtime enemy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is recovering in Germany from what German authorities – citing the findings of several specialist laboratories – say poisoning in Russia with a nerve agent.
His comments come after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that the Kremlin would respond to punitive measures by the EU.
“From the point of view of the German government, such a measure is obviously unjustified and inappropriate.” “She ignores the global interest in the elucidation of this affair and she takes a Russian problem in bilateral relations with Germany and France.”
Mr Navalny was treated at Charite Hospital in Berlin for 32 days before being released in September. “Soon we will inform our German and French colleagues,” Lavrov said, without specifying how many officials would be affected or revealing their names. His allies accused the Kremlin to poison its fiercest opponent. Moscow called on Germany and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to provide their evidence and bristled at the insistence of Western leaders for the Russian Federation to answer questions about what happened to the politician.
Doctors who treated Navalny before his flight to Berlin said last week that the opposition figure had not been poisoned but instead suffered from metabolic problems and pancreatitis.