Germany expects EU response to Navalny case in coming days

FILE PHOTO: German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas speaks to media during the foreign affairs ministers council in Brussels, Belgium September 21, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany and its European Union partners will agree in the coming days a joint response to the poisoning in Russia of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent in the banned Novichok family, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday.

“It is a serious violation of civic rights committed with a chemical nerve agent, and we firmly believe that this cannot remain without consequence,” Maas told German lawmakers in Berlin, where Navalny has been treated.

“That is why we will be coordinating a joint response with our partners within the European Union – and also within the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) – over the next few days,” he added.

Maas said it was in Russia’s interests to get to the bottom of the case.

Without an explanation from Russia, “targeted and proportionate sanctions against those responsible are unavoidable”, he told the Bundestag lower house of parliament. “Russia would do well not to let it get that far.”

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