On Tuesday 9 February, the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs questioned the EU High Representative Josep Borrell after he visited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a week before.
During their meeting in Moscow, the Kremlin announced its decision to expel three EU diplomats from Sweden, Poland and Germany for purportedly participating in “illegal protests” to support Alexei Navalny who was imprisoned on 23 January. All three governments deny these allegations.
ALDE President Hans van Baalen criticises the poor intervention by the High Representative Borrell in Russia. President van Baalen considers the visit as a missed opportunity to show European support to Navalny and the Russian opposition.
🇪🇺 European diplomacy got heavily damaged by @JosepBorrellF and others are paying the price. EU must support @navalny undeniably, increase current sanctions on Russia and suspend Nord stream 2, which is the diplomatic umbilical cord between EU and Russia.— Hans van Baalen (@hansvanbaalen) February 9, 2021
After several interventions by members of the Renew Europe Group, the EU High Representative was still convinced of the importance his trip.
Maintaining open diplomatic channels is important, but this official 🇷🇺 visit, in this context, severely affected the EU's credibility & washed away years of efforts to build an influential & credible 🇪🇺 diplomacy.— Dacian Cioloş (@CiolosDacian) February 9, 2021
The EU must be united in the face of despots & apply sanctions! pic.twitter.com/JN8B8dG9vZ
HRVP Borrell en #plenpe «La situation d’#AlexeiNavalny et des droits de l’homme en Russie requérait une présence ferme et énergique». Oui. Ferme et énergique😡. #navalny #cojones pic.twitter.com/5u42zrncIh— Frédérique Ries (@Frederiqueries) February 9, 2021