We will have to wait until February 22 to have a full account of Josep Borrell’s visit to Russia. It will indeed be on this date that the head of European diplomacy will detail to foreign ministers his two-day trip made on February 5 and 6. But that did not prevent him from now defending this controversial visit on Saturday and advocating the maintenance of dialogue with Moscow.
I met with Foreign Minister Lavrov today to discuss EU – Russia relations, which are at the lowest point following the poisoning & imprisonment of Mr @navalny. In an open and frank debate, I requested an impartial investigation into the attempt against his life & his freedom – 1 pic.twitter.com/9gaB3X4sfk
– Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) February 5, 2021
“Diplomatic channels must remain open, not only to defuse crises or incidents, but also to have direct exchanges, deliver firm and frank messages, especially when relations are far from satisfactory”, a- he said in a statement. Josep Borrell also added that European diplomats had been in contact with the lawyers of the imprisoned opponent Alexeï Navalny.
Despite outrage over the plight of the 44-year-old anti-corruption activist, Josep Borrell’s visit has divided EU member states. It must be said that Moscow is putting pressure so that this affair does not arouse the interference of foreign countries. The Russian authorities have thus announced the expulsion of Polish, German and Swedish diplomats, only a few hours after the meeting between Josep Borrell and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss bilateral relations. Russia accused diplomats of participating in “illegal January 23” rallies in support of Alexey Navalny. EU countries have firmly denied any fault on their part.