Disinfo: EU sanctions in Navalny affair are illegal


Moscow will respond in kind to the European Union sanctions in the case of Alexei Navalny, and these measures could affect bilateral relations with Germany and France. These are unilateral, illegal measures, like previous sanctions and the UN Security Council is the only body that can impose sanctions.


This is a Kremlin narrative which disputes the capacity of the European Union (EU) to impose sanctions against Russia, insisting that the United Nations Security Council is the only relevant international actor to do so. However, the EU has the competence to do so independently of the UN. The EU applies sanctions not only to implement UN Security Council Resolutions but also to further the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), namely a) promoting international peace and security, b) preventing conflicts, c) supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights and d) defending the principles of international law, as the EU did in the case of the illegal annexation of Crimea.

The "Navalny affair" falls in the context of applying restrictive measures (sanctions) to support democracy, rule of law and human rights. It is by now well documented that prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow on the 20th of August. Initially hospitalised in Omsk, at the request of his family he was transferred to Charité hospital in Berlin. Clinical findings at the Charité hospital indicated that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. Subsequent toxicological tests provided unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group in the blood samples of Alexei Navalny.  France and Sweden confirmed that the cause of his illness was Novichok, a Russian nerve agent. Samples taken from Navalny had also been sent for testing to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.


  • Reported in: Issue 216
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/10/2020
  • Language/target audience: Greek
  • Country: Russia, Germany, France
  • Keywords: EU, Alexei Navalny, Anti-Russian


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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EU is punishing Russia with baseless sanctions

What was the basis for [the European Union’s] decision to extend of sanctions? No court decision was issued; not documented evidence of Russia’s involvement has been produced. The matter is repeated with the poisoning incident of the opposition candidate Alexei Navalny. They are trying to punish Russia at any cost with these decisions.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury and Navalny’s poisoning and also a pro-Kremlin approach portraying every measure taken against Russia's hostile actions as Russophobia.

On the Skripal case

European Council wants to starve the Syrian people

[The extension of sanctions] is a continuation of the anti-Syrian campaign that the European Council has resorted to since the beginning of the terrorist war on Syria, using the Syrian chemical file as an excuse to continue spreading lies about Syria.

[The extension] falls within the framework of … starving the Syrian people and undermining their steadfastness.


A recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about sanctions against the Syrian regime trying to portray them as illegal and targeting the Syrian population.

The EU sanctions do not target the Syrian population but individuals and entities who are involved with a political regime that has committed war crimes, avoiding negative impacts on the population. See EEAS video here for further details.

Syria does not possess any chemical weapons 

[Syria] does not possess any chemical weapons, as part of fulfilling its obligations with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative absolving the Syrian regime of responsibility for chemical attacks in general.

The declared Syrian chemical weapon stockpile was reported to be completely destroyed in 2014. However, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) weapons inspectors could only authenticate that declared chemical weapons had been destroyed, even though there were suspicions in the West that Syria had hidden as much as 10% of its stockpile.