FM speaks with Blinken on EU-Russian relations, EU-US coop

FM Zbigniew Rau met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday to discuss EU-Russian relations, the situation in Belarus and EU-US relations.

Mr Rau confirmed that new sanctions against Russia were decided upon.

Moreover, Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, also partook in the meeting.

FM Rau said that the three politicians managed to “reach a consensus regarding the necessity of individual sanctions imposed on those who are found guilty of the illegal detention of Alexey Navalny.”

Regarding Belarus, the EU ministers stressed that the situation in terms of the rule of law was degrading there. “There are over 220 political prisoners [in Belarus], a number recently joined by two TV journalists, who were sentenced to two years behind bars. We have also stressed that Belarusian society found itself under great pressure, in particular, one of the leading organisations Viasna,” FM Rau said.

The official felt that the most time during the meeting was spent in discussion with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We have tackled a number of matters pointing to a very close stance of the US and the EU on the matters of climate, multilateralism, the US’ return to the WHO, the Paris Agreement, and the engagement in the World Trade Organisation,” Mr Rau said.

Mr Borrell said that the new sanctions against Russia involved expanding the list of people who were barred from entering the EU and had their assets frozen. Those people were: Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the investigative committee who answers directly to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin; Prosecutor-General Igor Krasnov, commander of the National Guard Victor Zolotov and the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) Alexander Kalashnikov.

The EU has decided not to implement restrictions against Russian oligarchs — a solution proposed by Russian oppositionist Alexey Navalny’s supporters.