Biden sanctions Russians over Putin opponent Alexei Navalny's poisoning, attempted murder




  • In Politics
  • 2021-03-02 15:59:32Z
  • By USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - The U.S. is imposing new sanctions on Russia in response to the poisoning and continued detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and reiterating its call for the Kremlin critic's release from prison, senior administration officials announced Tuesday.

The U.S. is sanctioning seven senior members of the Russian government and adding 14 entities to the Department of Commerce's "entity list," mirroring sanctions imposed earlier by the European Union and the United Kingdom for the attempted murder of Nalvany. The sanctions prevent top figures allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin from accessing financial and property assets in the U.S.

Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to release the names of those who were sanctioned. The names are expected to be released later on Tuesday.

The intelligence community determined with "high confidence" that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) used the nerve agent Novichok to poison Navalny last August, according to officials. Russia has denied accusations that it was behind the attack.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma after an illness his supporters suspect was poisoning.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma after an illness his supporters suspect was poisoning.  

Navalny returned to Russia in January after recovering from the nerve agent attack in Germany. He was detained shortly after his arrival in Moscow and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for violating terms of his probation while he was treated in Germany. Navalny's detention has sparked widespread protests across Russia.

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The sanctions are the first ordered by President Joe Biden against Moscow as the administration reassesses relations with Putin and considers punitive action over Navalny's attempted assassination, interference in U.S. ethe SolarWinds cyber hack and reported bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan.

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The sanctions, though largely symbolic, signal a new approach from the previous administration and were coordinated with the EU, which was also expected to take additional steps against Moscow Tuesday, officials said. The Trump administration declined to punish Russia over Nalvany's poisoning last summer despite international outrage over the attack.

"We expect this to be a challenging relationship, we are prepared for it to be a challenging relationship," a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call. "We're not seeking to escalate, we're not seeking to reset. We're seeking stability and predictability and areas of constructive work with Russia where it is in our interest to do that."

Following a phone call with Putin last month, Biden said he made clear that the "days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions" are over.

In his first major foreign policy address at the State Department, Biden called Navalny's jailing and Russian efforts to suppress freedom of expression "a matter of deep concern to us and the international community."

"He's been targeted, targeted for exposing corruption. He should be released immediately and without condition," he said.

The U.S. also announced it was tightening export controls on 13 businesses and one other entity for their involvement in chemical and biological agent production under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, officials said.

More: 'Diplomacy is back': Biden promises to restore ties with allies in dramatic foreign policy shift

Officials added that they anticipate more sanctions against Russia for the SolarWinds cyber hack that "will be announced sooner rather than later."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alexei Navalny poisoning leads US to sanction Putin allies in Russia

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