Friday 10/23/20

EU foreign ministers to debate sanctions on Russia for poisoning

The ministers are also to discuss the EU's response to ongoing tensions in Belarus.

Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto. Photo: Lauri Heikkinen/Vnk/File photo.

The European Union's foreign ministers are set to meet on Monday to find a common line on several foreign affairs issues, including possible sanctions on Russia for its alleged involvement in the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

France and Germany tabled a proposal for sanctions after an investigation found that Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok.

The two countries believe that the poisoning could only have happened with the involvement of Russian authorities.

According to a joint press release by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, the two countries plan to propose sanctions against individuals responsible for the crime and one institution.

But whether the politicians on Monday will come to an agreement on sanctions was still uncertain before the meeting, EU diplomats said.

Tensions in Belarus

The ministers are also to discuss the EU's response to ongoing tensions in Belarus.

The bloc imposed new sanctions on 40 officials in early October, but not on President Alexander Lukashenko, an option that is to be discussed on Monday. According to one EU source, EU ministers would also announce they are working on sanctions on additional officials.

Another major issue on the agenda will be the bloc's stance toward the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed region Nagorno-Karabakh, after both sides accused each other of violating a ceasefire shortly after it came into force on Saturday.

Other issues to be discussed include the situation in Kyrgyzstan, Venezuela and Mozambique.