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Minister: Russia ready to leave EU over sanctions

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Russia is prepared to break with the European Union (EU) if Brussels imposes further sanctions on Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

“We don’t want to isolate ourselves from life in the world, but we have to be prepared for it,’’ Lavrov said during a broadcast by journalist Vladimir Solovyov.

Should Europe reimpose sanctions “that pose a risk to our economy, then yes,’’ the minister responded to Solovyov’s question about whether Moscow was heading for a break with Brussels.

“If you want peace, prepare for war,’’ Mr. Lavrov added.

Moscow subsequently said Lavrov’s comments had been taken out of context, which was a big mistake, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“The point is that we don’t want that. We want to develop relations with the European Union, but if the European Union goes down this road, then yes, we are ready,’’ Mr. Peskov said.

A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry called Mr. Lavrov’s statement disconcerting.”

EU foreign ministers plan to meet on February 22, to discuss further sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

The European Union has already imposed travel and asset bans on people suspected of poisoning Mr. Navalny in 2020.

Earlier, Mr. Navalny was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on charges of violating parole for a fraud conviction.

He could not report to parole officers because he was taken to Germany while comatose after being attacked with the nerve agent Novichok, then stayed there for several months to recuperate.

The attack was widely blamed on Russian agents.

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