European Union foreign ministers have backed a plan to impose sanctions on Russians suspected of using a nerve agent to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Germany and France are the two countries leading the charge, and made their proposal at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
They say they have not had a credible explanation from Moscow for what the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said was the presence of the banned Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in Mr Navalny’s body.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters the poisoning could not “remain without consequences”.
“France and Germany propose imposing sanctions on certain people that caught our eye in this respect,” Mr Maas said, without giving any details.
EU diplomats told Reuters there was broad support among the 27 foreign ministers for asset freezes and travel bans on several Russian GRU military intelligence officials.
Moscow denies any involvement in Mr Navalny’s poisoning.
Senior Russian politician Vladimir Dzhabarov said Russia may respond with sanctions of its own, and repeated Moscow’s line that there was no concrete evidence behind the accusations, Interfax news agency reported.
The EU sanctions are not expected to be approved immediately, as legal texts must be prepared and cleared by experts from the 27 EU states.