Lithuania initiated a meeting with Russian opposition representatives in Brussels
On the eve of the Foreign Affairs Council to be held on 22 February, EU ministers of foreign affairs, ambassadors, and representatives of the EU institutions met with Leonid Volkov, chief of staff to Alexei Navalny, and Ivan Zhdanov, Director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation at the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis.
“Tomorrow, EU ministers of foreign affairs will consider imposing a new set of sanctions targeting Russian officials. Hopefully, it was useful to my counterparts and representatives of the EU institutions to hear the facts and impressions of opponents of the Kremlin regime of the real situation in Russia. We have heard first-hand what's happening in Russia and how people are fighting for their rights and freedoms," said the Foreign Minister Landsbergis.
“Unfortunately, regimes in the EU’s neighbourhood only understand it when we speak with one voice to draw a principled line. Although some do still doubt the effectiveness of sanctions, available information proves that both sanctions against individuals and horizontal sanctions have an impact on the targets themselves. The truth is we cannot turn a blind eye to the blatant violation of human rights in Russia. What's happening is not European. Russia’s threats to break ties with the EU, police brutality and the use of violence by law enforcement officers against journalists, opposition members, and civil society activists show the regime’s fear of change. The bigger is the circle of the Kremlin-related individuals sanctioned, the bigger will be the impact of sanctions," said Landsbergis.
On 22 February, the Foreign Affairs Council will focus on the EU-Russia relations, the deteriorating human rights and democracy situation in Belarus, Myanmar, the latest developments regarding Hong Kong, the situation in Ethiopia and Sudan, and the EU initiative that aims to strengthen a common European security and defence culture. EU ministers of foreign affairs will also consider imposing fresh sanctions against those behind Russia's crackdown on Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and his supporters.