The United States is preparing new sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, announced U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Navalny was arrested in January when he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had received treatment for a near-fatal poisoning with a Soviet-era nerve agent in August. Navalny has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin directly for the attack, a claim the Kremlin has denied.
President Joe Biden said he told Putin during their summit last week that human rights will always be on the table and that he will continue to raise the issue, including the arrest of Navalny. President Biden said that he also warned Putin of the consequences if Navalny were to die in prison, telling reporters at a news conference that he “made it clear” that the consequences should Navalny die “would be devastating for Russia.”
The White House had announced in March that it was placing sanctions on seven senior Russian officials, including Putin’s deputy chief of staff, after a U.S. intelligence assessment concluded: “with high confidence” that officers from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) were behind Navalny’s poisoning. The U.S. announcement came on the heels of European Union sanctions against four senior Russian officials.
.@ABC News' @rachelvscott to Russian Pres. Putin: "The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned or jailed is long…and you have now prevented anyone who supports [Alexey Navalny] to run for office.
"So my question is, Mr. President: what are you so afraid of?" pic.twitter.com/EMNnaRLLbO
— ABC News (@ABC) June 16, 2021
Russia reacted angrily, saying the move was “absolutely unacceptable” and would have a destructive effect on the country’s already bad relations with the United States and the European Union.
I yelled to Putin why do you fear navalny so much. Putin heard me and didn’t answer. Biden flashed me a big toothy grin. pic.twitter.com/Z8pFbPDgtO
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 16, 2021
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov was recalled later in March following a comment by Biden indicating he agreed that Putin is a “killer.” Relations between Washington and Moscow further deteriorated in April when the United States announced sanctions against dozens of Russian individuals and entities and expelled 10 Russian diplomats as it moved to hold the Kremlin accountable for election interference and a massive cyberattack on U.S. government and corporate computer networks.
I find Putins false equivalency between the violent insurrectionists who attacked the US Capitol and Navalny‘ s peaceful anti-corruption organization to be really offensive.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) June 16, 2021
No major breakthroughs were announced after the summit, but the two leaders said they found some common ground on minor issues and announced their ambassadors would soon be returning to their posts.
“Morning Joe” covered the new sanctions on Monday. Watch the segment, below.