The Biden administration imposed sanctions on Russia over Navalny’s poisoning.
The sanctions impact seven senior Russian officials.
US intelligence concluded with “high confidence” Navalny was poisoned by Russia, officials said.
The Biden administration unveiled sanctions Tuesday against seven senior Russian officials over the poisoning and detention of Alexei Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Senior administration officials told reporters on Tuesday that the US intelligence community has concluded with “high confidence” that officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) poisoned Navalny with the nerve agent Novichok. The use of Novichok agents is barred in warfare under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997, of which Russia is a signatory. Navalny is not the first Russian dissident to be poisoned with Novichok, a class of nerve agents first developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
“Russian officials have targeted Mr. Navalny for his activism and efforts to reveal uncomfortable truths about Russian officials’ corruption,” an official said. “We’re exercising our authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and violation of its international human rights commitments have severe consequences.”
The officials reiterated Biden’s demand that Navalny be released from prison, stating that his arrest and detention occurred on “politically motivated grounds.”
The administration also announced new export restrictions on 14 entities tied to chemical and biological weapons production in Russia.
The sanctions, which were coordinated with similar actions from the European Union against Russian officials, mark the Biden administration’s first such action against Moscow. The move also represents a departure from former President Donald Trump, whose administration barely acknowledged the poisoning of Navalny and did not impose any penalties over it.
“The US is neither seeking to reset our relations with Russia, nor are we seeking to escalate,” one official said. “We believe that the US and our partners must be clear and impose costs when Russian behavior crosses boundaries that are respected by responsible nations. And we believe that there should be guardrails on how these adversarial aspects of our relationship play out.”
Navalny was poisoned in August 2020 while in Siberia. He was eventually transferred to Germany for treatment and stayed there for several months. After returning to Moscow in January, Navalny was arrested for alleged parole violations and subsequently sentenced to three and a half years in prison. The anti-corruption campaigner’s detention led to mass protests in Russia, prompting a violent response from authorities and thousands of arrests.
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