Russia-EU relations hit lowest point after sanctions over Navalny incident - diplomat

Russia's Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov

BRUSSELS, October 17. /TASS/: Relations between Russia and the European Union have reached their lowest level in recent years after sanctions in connection with the incident with opposition blogger Alexey Navalny, Russia's Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told reporters on Saturday.

"This decision [of the Council of the EU] confirmed our worst fears that relations between Russia and the EU will be brought to their lowest level in recent years," he said, noting that currently there is "little left" of Russia’s trust in the EU.

"The justification for these sanctions, both from a political and legal point of view, is very feeble, and from a moral point of view, it is simply unacceptable," the diplomat noted. Chizhov added, "Of course, we evaluate these restrictions in the same way as all the previous ones: as unilateral illegal measures. There is only one authority in the world authorized to impose sanctions - the UN Security Council."

Russia will respond to the European Union with mirrored personal measures on the sanctions imposed under the pretext of the incident with Navalny, Chizhov said. "Undoubtedly, mirror response measures will be taken. Since the sanctions are personal, the response will obviously be personal," he said. Chizhov did not rule out that the Russian response "will touch on Germany and France," which initiated the introduction of restrictions.

Answering the question whether Russia can reconsider relations with the EU as a whole, Chizhov reiterated that these relations "are already at the lowest point." "To be honest, I expect that it will become more difficult for me and my colleagues to work in the near future, but we are ready for this and in any case we will strive to improve the Russian-EU relations. On an equal and mutually respectful basis, of course, in no way sacrificing fundamental Russian interests," he said.

"However, any relationship, besides the political one, has a material dimension, primarily a trade and economic one. In past years, we even measured the strength of this ‘safety net’. That is, we compared our trade with the EU with the volume of trade between Russia and the United States. About 10 years ago, this ratio was 1 to 11. Today we see that unfriendly political actions are accompanied by deliberate attempts to destroy the material basis, by switching part of the EU's economic ties from Russia to the United States among other means. It is doubtful that this maneuver would be painless for the Old World," Chizhov concluded.

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