Alexei Navalny: UK and EU impose sanctions on six Russian officials over poisoning

Prominent Putin critic believed to have been poisoned with novichok

Oliver Carroll@olliecarroll

But if the EU had more specific evidence linking the six individuals to the crime, it certainly refrained from revealing it in its charge sheet. That obvious weakness would now be used by the Kremlin to undermine the message being sent, suggested Tatiana Stanovaya, chief executive of the political analysis firm R.Politik. “The names on the list is evidence that they don’t know what exactly happened. You don’t see any details about who ordered the attack, who prepared the poisons and so on. That will give the Kremlin an obvious advantage in any information war.”

If the aim of the sanctions was to change behaviours within the Russian elite, that approach was also “mistaken”, Ms Stanovaya said. Those at the highest levels of government are already “morally prepared” to be cut off from the west, and had mostly repatriated liquid assets: “Sanctions have become routine, and are accompanied by zero emotions. However loud, however painful they might be, the position is that we’ll get used to them and answer them somehow.”

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