MOSCOW – Russia is prepared for a split with the European Union if the EU imposes new crippling sanctions amid a dispute over the treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the nation's top diplomat warned Friday.
In response to a question about Moscow's willingness to rupture links with the EU, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in televised remarks that Russia doesn't want to be isolated but must increase its self-sufficiency to face potential EU sanctions.
“We don’t want to be isolated from international life, but we must be ready for that," Lavrov said. “If you want peace, you must prepare for war.”
Asked if Russia is heading toward a split with the European Union, Lavrov replied, “We proceed from the assumption that we are ready for that.”
He emphasized the importance of economic ties with the 27 EU nations, adding that Russia would continue engaging in mutually beneficial cooperation. At the same time, Lavrov said, Russia must prepare for the worst and increasingly rely on its own resources.
"We must achieve that in the economic sphere, if we see again, as we have felt more than once, that sanctions imposed in some areas create risks to our economy, including in the most sensitive spheres, such as supplies of parts and components," the Russian foreign minister added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized that Russia wants to maintain normal ties with the EU but needs to prepare for the worst, if the bloc takes hostile actions.
“If we face a destructive course that will hurt our infrastructure, our interests, Russia must be ready in advance for such unfriendly steps,” Peskov said during a call with reporters when asked about Lavrov's comment. “We must be self-reliant. We must ensure our security in the most sensitive strategic areas and be prepared to replace everything we could be deprived of with national infrastructure in case madness prevails and such unfriendly actions take place.”