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Wednesday, 28 April 2021 - Brussels Provisional edition

Russia, the case of Alexei Navalny, military build-up on Ukraine's border and Russian attack in the Czech Republic (debate)

  Tonino Picula (S&D). – Madam President, it’s easy to conclude that our relations with Russia are at a very low point. The debate today tackles three problems, but the list of our pending issues with Russia is much longer.

Even though the circumstances have changed since last week, the fact is that Russia was piling up military in an illegally occupied territory, while still not cooperating within OSCE mechanisms. Alexei Navalny did stop his hunger strike, but he’s still imprisoned. The attacks on his life and freedom illustrate the shrinking space for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, while the human rights situation in Russia is deteriorating on an unprecedented scale. Illegal activities in Czechia are a stark reminder of how far Russian interference goes.

We have to adopt a new substantial and comprehensive strategy towards Russia. We should not keep falling into a political trap, thus further narrowing the space for our political actions, but rather strengthen our common foreign and security policy. Energy over-dependence, divergent policies among Member States, direct interference in political processes, and Russia’s very active role in disinformation campaigns should be on our to—do list. Prevailing particular interests are only a great opportunity for Russia to impose further leverage. Therefore, we should re-examine the added value of the ongoing policies and projects that undermine the strategic autonomy of the European Union as a whole.

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