Russia summons UK envoy in response to Navalny sanctions

File photo. Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and the new British Ambassador to Russia Deborah Bronnert (L) attend a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 5 February 2020. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

Russia said on Wednesday (30 December) it had summoned Britain’s ambassador to tell her it was expanding the number of British citizens banned from entry in response to London sanctioning Russian officials over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Navalny is convalescing in Germany after being poisoned in Russia with a Novichok nerve agent, an attack about which Britain and other Western countries have said Russia, which denies wrongdoing, has serious questions to answer.

The Kremlin has said it has yet to see evidence that Navalny was poisoned and President Vladimir Putin has suggested the way the incident has been presented in the West is part of a US-backed plot to try to discredit him.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday it had been forced to respond to what it called unfriendly and unconstructive steps by Britain in October. It said it had handed Deborah Bronnert, Britain’s ambassador to Russia, a note explaining its position.

Britain and the European Union imposed sanctions on top Russian officials close to Putin in October in a response to Navalny’s poisoning.

EU sanctions senior Putin aides over Navalny, Libya

The EU on Thursday (15 October) sanctioned senior aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the man known as his chef, over the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and Kremlin meddling in Libya’s civil war.

Moscow on Wednesday called those sanctions unacceptable and unjustified.

It did not publicly name the British officials, politicians and individuals it was banning from Russia, but said they were united by the fact that they had been complicit in whipping up what it called anti-Russian sanctions.

Separately, Russia expanded the list of German officials banned from entering Russia.

Moscow expands list of German officials banned from Russia

Moscow on Tuesday (29 December) expanded a list of German officials who are banned from entering Russia in response to EU sanctions that the bloc imposed over Russian cyber-attacks on the German parliament.

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