EU's Michel says EU united and firm over Russia sanctions related to Navalny

FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel attends a news briefing during a visit to a checkpoint in the town of Shchastya in Luhansk Region, Ukraine March 2, 2021. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

KYIV (Reuters) - The President of the European Council Charles Michel said on Wednesday that EU sanctions over Moscow's treatment of opposition politician Alexei Navalny showed the EU was totally united in defending its interests.

The Kremlin earlier played down the impact of sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU but said it would retaliate with reciprocal measures.

"... we decided to implement sanctions because of the Navalny case," Michel said.

"It means that we are totally committed and we are united in Europe in order to be very tough, very firm, in order to promote our values, to defend our interests."

Michel was speaking in Kyiv alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who called for the EU to impose more sanctions related to human rights violations in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.

"I do not believe in a return to business as usual in relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation without restoring the territorial integrity of our state," Zelenskiy said.

(Reporting by Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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