EU foreign ministers have extended the sanction system to punish individuals or organizations involved in chemical weapons attacks by one year until October 2021.
The legal framework for EU sanctions expires on October 16. The agenda at the Council of Ministers in Luxembourg includes the possible imposition of sanctions against Russia for “involvement and responsibility” in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
“We are going to talk about our bilateral relations with Russia as well as our joint response to the Navalny case,” said EU foreign chief Josep Borrell. France and Germany are pushing for punitive measures against Moscow. The Netherlands is also in favour of this.
Navalny became very ill during a flight in Russia in August. He was eventually allowed to go to Germany to be treated there. International experts then determined that the politician had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve poison. Navalny is pushing for European sanctions against powerful business people with close ties to the Kremlin.
The European sanctions system for chemical weapons attacks was set up in October 2018. In early 2019, it was used for the first time against Russian agents blamed for the nerve gas attack on Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England. The sanctions include freezing assets in the EU and entry bans.
There are currently nine individuals on the list. In addition to four Russians in connection with the attack on Skripal, there are five people with ties to the Syrian regime. Also, sanctions are underway against a Syrian organization involved in the development of chemical weapons.