(MOSCOW) JUST IN: Russia is ready to cut ties with the EU if Brussels initiates it, but for its part, Moscow is calling for cooperation, the Russian Foreign Ministry told TASS on Friday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Feb.12: ./TASS/. We are ready to cut ties if it happens on the initiative of the EU. For our part, we strongly call on the EU to establish equal and mutually respectful cooperation, which is what [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov] said,” the ministry noted: Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Soloviev LIVE Youtube channel that Moscow does not rule out the possibility of cutting ties with the EU if Brussels introduces sanctions that create risks for sensitive sectors of the Russian economy:

‘Russia ‘ready’ for split from European Union if new sanctions imposed for Alexei Navalny imprisonment: Russia is prepared for a split with the European Union if the EU imposes tough, new sanctions amid a dispute over the treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the nation’s Foreign Minister has warned’

ABC News: Posted 1h ago

A middle-aged man in casual clothes smiles slightly and  looks through a glass window inside a room.
Alexei Navalny was back in court on Friday to face slander charges he says are politically motivated.(Reuters: Babushkinsky District Court)

In response to a question about Moscow’s willingness to rupture links with the EU, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia must increase its self-sufficiency to deal with potential EU sanctions.

“We don’t want to be isolated from international life, but we must be ready for that,” Mr Lavrov said.

“If you want peace, you must prepare for war.”

Asked if Russia is heading towards a split with the European Union, Mr Lavrov replied, “We proceed from the assumption that we are ready for that.”

He emphasised the importance of economic ties with the 27 EU nations, adding that Russia would continue engaging in mutually beneficial cooperation. 

Sergey Lavrov sits behind a lectern with a microphone, gesturing with one hand while holing a pen. There is a blue screen behind
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia is prepared to go it alone if necessary.(AP: Pavel Golovkin)

At the same time, Russia must prepare for the worst and increasingly rely on its own resources, according to Mr Lavrov.

“We must achieve that in the economic sphere, if we see again, as we have felt more than once, that sanctions imposed in some areas create risks to our economy,” he said.

“[This is] including in the most sensitive spheres, such as supplies of parts and components.”

Russia-EU relations have sunk to new lows over Mr Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment.

Mr Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recuperating after he was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent.

Russian authorities have repeatedly denied allegations they poisoned Mr Navalny.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after visiting Russia last week that the 27-nation bloc must take a firm stance in its relations with Russia and ponder new sanctions in the wake of a prison sentence of more than three years for Mr Navalny for probation violations.

Two people stand behind lecterns in the blue of the EU flag in front of lecterns with the EU flags.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, right, is calling on the EU to get tough with Russia.(AP: Virginia Mayo)

While Mr Borrell was meeting with Mr Lavrov, Moscow announced the expulsion of diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden for attending protests in support of Mr Navalny. 

The three EU countries responded in kind on Monday, with each expelling a Russian diplomat.

Judge clashes with Mr Navalny in Moscow court

Mr Navalny appeared in court again on Friday on slander charges he denounced as politically motivated.

He paced around inside a glass cage nicknamed the aquarium in the Moscow courtroom and railed against the slander case in several heated exchanges with the judge.

At one point, he told her she did not know the law and needed legal courses.

The judge reprimanded the 44-year-old at least 15 times and threatened to have him removed from the hearing.

A policeman detains a protesters who is on the ground in the snow, while protesters try to help him.
More protests against the jailing of Alexei Navalny are planned this weekend.(AP: Valentin Egorshin)

Mr Navalny stands accused of defaming a World War Two veteran who took part in a promotional video backing constitutional reforms last year.

It let Mr Putin run for two more terms in the Kremlin after 2024 if he wants.

His allies plan to stage a new kind of protest on Sunday and are urging his followers to gather for 15 minutes in residential courtyards across the country, shining their mobile phone torches and lighting candles. 

./TASS./ ABC/wires

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Feb.12: 2021:

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READ ALSORussian diplomat warns EU against new sanctions