Ruxit Is Real?
It, now, seems that Russia will be the second nation, after Britain, to leave the European Union (EU). The Kremlin recently threatened to leave the 27-member bloc over the Navalny issue! Moscow’s relations with the Western world have deteriorated after the EU nations strongly criticised Russia for attempting to assassinate Opposition leader Alexei Anatolievich Navalny. Navalny, known as a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested shortly after his return from Germany. It is to be noted that the Opposition leader returned to Moscow on January 17 after spending nearly five months recuperating in Germany. A team from Russia’s FSB spy agency, reportedly, had poisoned him last summer with the nerve agent Novichok in Siberia.
As his arrest sparked outrage in the US and the EU, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Navalny’s arrest violated “the principles of the Rule of Law“, asking Kremlin “to release Navalny immediately“. Her spokesperson Steffen Seibert quoted the Chancellor as saying: “Russian Authorities arrested the victim of a chemical weapons attack and not the perpetrators.” According to sources close to Berlin, the EU may impose another round of sanctions on Russia soon. Even Europe’s top Human Rights Court has ordered Russia to release the jailed Opposition leader. However, the ruling did not do much to soften the Kremlin’s determination to isolate its most prominent foe.
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov has hinted that Moscow, too, is ready to give a fitting reply to the EU. Addressing a media conference in Moscow earlier this week, he stated that his country was ready to snap ties with the EU, if the bloc imposed sanctions. “We’re ready for that. If we see again as has happened many times before that sanctions are imposed that pose risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas,” he added. Lavrov further said: “We don’t want to isolate ourselves from peaceful life, but we have to be ready for that. If you want peace you have to prepare for war.”
Britain and the US, too, have slammed the Vladimir Putin Administration for harassing Navalny. Russia and three EU Nations have expelled each other’s diplomats, amidst rising tensions. Immediately after Russia announced the expulsion of three diplomats from Poland, Germany and Sweden for their “recorded participation” in protests against Navalny’s imprisonment, the three EU countries reciprocated in kind and rejected the accusation. Later, Lavrov described the bloc as an unreliable partner, stating: “Our relationship with the EU is really on the verge of breaking down. However, the EU will be solely responsible, if the relationship ends.”
Meanwhile, the stubborn Navalni has made it clear that he would continue staging Anti-Government protests. A pro-Putin World War II veteran recently said in a promotional video that the Russian Strongman could continue as President even after 2024, if he wished so. Navalny called the war veteran a Traitor! The anti-corruption campaigner is in court again to face allegations that he defamed a war veteran. However, Navalny has claimed that it is a further fabricated case aimed to vilify him.
Interestingly, Germany plans to go ahead with the huge Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, despite the souring of ties with the Kremlin. Germany, like other European countries, is heavily dependent on Russia for energy supply. As this particular project is very controversial, Germany’s EU partner Poland and the Baltic nations are against it. However, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has hinted that Berlin has no plan to scrap the project, saying that “energy ties are almost the last bridge between Russia and Europe“. He recalled the huge losses suffered by Russia in World War II at the hands of Nazi Germany. “That doesn’t justify any wrongdoing in Russian policy today, but we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture,” stressed the President.
Political experts, seemingly, are not sure whether Russia will really leave the EU, or it is just a warning. In recent times, the Kremlin has taken several steps to boost ties with Asian countries, especially with India. Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla recently arrived in Moscow to discuss different bilateral, regional and global issues. Later, President Putin would visit India to attend Annual Bilateral Talks. According to experts, President Putin would have to maintain cordial ties with Asia in the coming days, keeping in mind Russia’s deteriorating ties with Europe.
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