It is the most threatening words to the European Union in years. It appears that Russia is concerned about possible sanctions due to the persecution of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the repression of peaceful protesters.
“We do not want to isolate ourselves from world life, but we need to be ready for it,” Lavrov said in an interview with Vladimir Soloviev, the most famous announcer on Russian state television. “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
Analysts say Russia is largely dependent on the European Union for its prosperity to force outright secession. Lavrov’s remarks appear primarily to portray Russia in a moment of tension as an independent world power that will not be dictated by law.
In the European Union, the desire to declare sanctions has increased since the dramatic visit of Foreign Minister Josep Borrell to Moscow last week. While Borrell expressed Lavrov’s interest in the fifth Sputnik vaccine and indicated that there were no sanctions for Navalny’s trial, Russia announced the expulsion of a German, Swedish and Polish diplomat. Back in Brussels, Borrell called on European Union member states to impose sanctions on Russia. The European Union foreign ministers will meet on February 22.
Consensus on severe economic sanctions unlikely. Opinions about Russia among EU member states are very strong for that. For example, few analysts count on the sacrifices of Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline separating Ukraine and Poland from Russian gas and still calling Chancellor Merkel a “purely economic project.”
It appears that it is easier to reach agreement on measures against individuals. This is what Navalny defended. His team called on the European Union and the United States to impose sanctions on more than 30 Russians “actively participating in the repression and corruption by the Putin regime.” The list includes oligarchs, bankers and government representatives who have short queues to get to Putin and often own villas, bank balances and business ties in the West.
Lavrov’s statements are also part of an attack directed against their own people. After the unprecedented wave of protest in recent weeks, the Kremlin condemns any form of opposition as foreign interference. Navalny is said to have been poisoned by Western security forces. Street protests? Coordinated by NATO.
For example, the Kremlin is trying to dissuade Russians from participating in opposition actions. Even those close to Putin launched an attack on Navalny’s team’s call with the Russians to stand with phone lights next to their homes for 15 minutes Sunday evening to express solidarity with political prisoners. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament compared the participants to collaborators who used lights to pass targets to the German Air Force during the Siege of Leningrad – historians immediately responded by saying that no traffic signals were given to the Nazis during that siege.