MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday it would be ready to sever ties with the European Union if the bloc hit it with painful economic sanctions, a statement that Germany described as disconcerting and incomprehensible.
Ties between Russia and the West, already at post-Cold War lows, have come under renewed pressure over the arrest and jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Three European diplomats told Reuters on Thursday the EU was likely to impose travel bans and asset freezes on allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, possibly as soon as this month.
Pressure for sanctions has grown since Moscow infuriated European countries last week by expelling German, Polish and Swedish diplomats without telling the EU’s foreign policy chief, who was in Moscow for a visit. Paris and Berlin say there must be a response.