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EU considers sanctions on Russia, Myanmar

At a gathering of the Foreign Affairs Council, European Union overseas ministers are anticipated to weigh contemporary sanctions on Russia over the imprisonment of Alexey Navalny, take into account penalising Myanmar officers over the latest coup, and talk about efforts to avoid wasting the imperilled 2015 nuclear take care of Iran.

Top diplomats from the 27-nation bloc will meet on the EU’s headquarters in Brussels on Monday for the discussions, which will even embrace a video-conference with the brand new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Ahead of the assembly, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged his EU counterparts to approve the preparation of extra sanctions on Russia.

Diplomats have mentioned the bloc is about to arrange journey bans and asset freezes on allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Navalny’s imprisonment, however they seem unlikely to impose restrictions on oligarchs near Putin, because the Kremlin critic had known as for.

Navalny, 44, has been imprisoned in Russia since his arrest on January 17, when he returned to Moscow from Berlin. He had been handled within the German capital following an alleged poisoning assault final 12 months, which he blames on Russian officers. Moscow denies any involvement within the August 2020 incident.

He was jailed on February 2 for nearly three years over alleged parole violations on a suspended sentence linked to a 2014 embezzlement case. Navalny insists the case introduced ahead towards him was politically motivated.

His jailing has fuelled nationwide anti-government demonstrations.

“I am in favour of ordering the preparation of additional sanctions, of listings of specific persons,” Maas mentioned upon arriving for the talks on Monday.

A ultimate resolution on sanctions is prone to be taken by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels in mid-March.

But Maas additionally known as for EU overseas ministers to “talk about how to keep up a constructive dialogue with Russia, even as relations certainly have reached a low”.

Russia, for its half, has mentioned it is able to retaliate if the EU takes punitive motion.

EU-Russia ties at ‘low point’

Monday’s assembly comes two weeks after EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell made a uncommon go to to Russia for talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, a transfer that drew condemnation from some EU members.

During Borrell’s go to, Russia introduced the expulsion of diplomats from Sweden, Germany and Poland, accusing them of taking part in pro-Navalny protests.

Sweden, Germany and Poland took tit-for-tat retaliatory motion.

The EU has beforehand struck Russia with sanctions – over the 2014 annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine, and in October, it positioned six officers on a blacklist over Navalny’s alleged poisoning.

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, mentioned contemporary sanctions on Russia would mark a “ratcheting up of the pressure”.

Iran, Myanmar to characteristic

The Iran nuclear deal and the state of affairs in Myanmar are additionally anticipated to be on the agenda.

Signed in Vienna in 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, noticed Iran curtail its nuclear programme in change for a gradual easing of worldwide sanctions.

“The EU’s position is that they want any kind of rapprochement, any kind of detente,” Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane mentioned. “Anything that can keep the deal alive and then have the deal bolstered, the EU wants to be part of.”

The deal was rocked by former US President Donald Trump’s resolution to formally withdraw from the accord in 2018 and reimpose sanctions on Iran. Tehran has regularly scaled again its commitments in response.

US President Joe Biden’s administration says it is able to discuss returning to the accord, however Tehran insists the US should first rescind its sanctions, whereas Washington says Tehran should first return to compliance.

EU overseas ministers are additionally anticipated to resolve whether or not to sanction people in Myanmar in response to the navy’s seizing of energy.

Germany’s Maas mentioned the bloc was “not prepared to stand by and watch” the state of affairs unfold, as Myanmar’s authorities deploy more and more heavy-handed techniques in a bid to crush protests towards the coup.

“We will use all diplomatic channels to push for a de-escalation in Myanmar but at the same time, as a last resort, prepare sanctions on the military regime in Myanmar,” he added.

Maas’ feedback got here after Borrell on Saturday condemned the violence towards peaceable rallies, throughout which three demonstrators have been killed.

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Updated on February 28, 2021 9:00 am

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