Moscow ready to "sever ties" with the EU, says Sergei Lavrov

Comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Moscow is ready to sever ties with the European Union if the bloc hits it with new economic sanctions have been described by Germany’s Foreign Ministry as “disconcerting”.

“These statements are really disconcerting and incomprehensible,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told a regular government news conference in Berlin. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert added: “I can only underline that," pointing to remarks by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who did not rule out new sanctions, but at the same time stressed the importance of dialogue with Russia.

Relations between Russia and the West have come under renewed pressure over the arrest and jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, which has sparked talk of possible new sanctions.

Lavrov accused the EU of spreading lies abut circumstances surrounding Navalny's poisoning and subsequent imprisonment, saying “We are getting used to the fact that the European Union are trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner."

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High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell, who has faced calls for his resignation following his disastrous "aggressively-staged press conference" with Lavrov in Moscow earlier this month, said that "Russia does not want to seize the opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue with the EU. This is regrettable, and we will have to draw the consequences."

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