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Warsaw warns of deepening ‘crisis’ in ties as Moscow expels Polish diplomat

05.02.2021 16:29
Warsaw warned of a deepening “crisis” in ties after Russia on Friday announced the expulsion of diplomats from Poland, Sweden and Germany, accusing them of taking part in illegal protests against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Russias Sergei Lavrov the EUs Josep Borrell during a joint news conference on Friday following talks in Moscow.
Russia’s Sergei Lavrov the EU’s Josep Borrell during a joint news conference on Friday following talks in Moscow. Photo: EPA/Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry

The foreign ministry in Warsaw responded by summoning the Russian ambassador, and said that the Polish diplomat designated as persona non grata had been performing official duties in keeping with her diplomatic status.

Poland expects the Russian authorities “to reverse this erroneous decision. Otherwise, Poland reserves the option of taking appropriate steps,” the foreign ministry in Warsaw said in a statement.

It added that the decision by Moscow would “contribute to the further deepening of the crisis in bilateral relations between our countries.”

Russia's move came as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were holding a press conference in Moscow on Friday, the EUobserver website cited a source as saying.

New sanctions?

Commenting on the possibility of EU sanctions against Moscow over its treatment of Navalny, Lavrov said after talks with Borrell that "for Russia, the EU is an unreliable partner."

Borrell flew to Moscow on Thursday to meet Lavrov on a trip that has drawn criticism.

Six European Union states including Poland and the Baltics are pushing for new EU sanctions on Russian officials after the jailing of Navalny and a police crackdown, the Reuters news agency reported, citing diplomats.

Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Romania called for travel bans and asset freezes on more Russian individuals, on human rights grounds, at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, the diplomats told Reuters.

Navalny was arrested on his return to Russia late last month from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning in Russia in August.

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau earlier this week called on the Russian authorities to release Navalny, saying the Kremlin critic has become "a victim of political persecution."


Source: Reuters/PAP/euobserver.com/Polish Foreign Ministry