Pushed by Germany, where Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was treated after collapsing on a flight from Siberia, and France, the EU has targeted six Russians and a scientific research centre.

This handout picture posted on September 15, 2020 on the Instagram account of @navalny shows Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny with his family.
This handout picture posted on September 15, 2020 on the Instagram account of @navalny shows Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny with his family. (AFP)

The European Union has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin in an unexpectedly robust and swift response to the August poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.

Pushed by France and Germany, where Navalny was treated after collapsing on a flight from Siberia, the EU targeted six Russians and a state scientific research centre, according to the bloc's Official Journal.

EU also sanctioned Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed "Putin's chef" because his company has done catering for the Kremlin, for undermining peace in Libya by supporting the Wagner Group private military company.

In response, the Kremlin promised a retaliation that would be in Russia's interest.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there was no logic to the decision and said the sanctions had harmed relations

READ MORE: France, Germany seek Russia sanctions over Navalny poisoning

Swift action

Unlike the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain in 2018, when the EU took almost a year to sanction military intelligence agents, the bloc targeted officials it believes planned and helped carry out the poisoning.

Andrei Yarin, head of the presidential policy directorate, Sergei Kiriyenko, Putin's first deputy chief of staff, Sergei Menyaylo, Putin's envoy to Siberia, Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia's Federal Security Service and two deputy defence ministers were targeted.

Travel bans and asset freezes

The State Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology was also sanctioned.

"The deployment of a toxic nerve agent of the Novichok group would ... only be possible due to the failure of the Institute to carry out its responsibility to destroy the stockpiles of chemical weapons," the Official Journal said.

READ MORE: Navalny: Russian intelligence poisoned me to neutralise election threat

Moscow has repeatedly rejected the accusations that Navalny had been poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him and has said there were no grounds for sanctions.

READ MORE: EU ministers agree to place sanctions on Russia, Belarus' Lukashenko

The travel bans and asset freezes confirmed a Reuters report on Wednesday and followed political agreement from EU foreign ministers earlier this week.

Paris and Berlin said they have not had a credible explanation from Moscow for what the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said was Novichok in Navalny's body.

Navalny is recovering in Germany.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies