President Biden to hit Russia with 'major sanctions' in response to death of Navalny

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will impose “major sanctions” on Russia, the White House said Tuesday, in response to the death of Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who died in prison last week under mysterious circumstances.

John Kirby, the White House’s national security communications adviser, said the new sanctions are designed to “hold Russia accountable for what happened to Mr. Navalny” as well as “all its actions over the course of this vicious and brutal war” that has raged in Ukraine for two years.

President Joe Biden plans to unveil the sanctions package Friday. Kirby declined to elaborate on what the new sanctions could look like or explain how they might differ from previous U.S. sanctions targeting Russia.

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Biden, who left Washington for a three-day campaign fundraising swing in California, told reporters he won’t discuss the details of the sanctions until Friday.

president biden to hit russia with 'major sanctions' in response to death of navalny

TOPSHOT – People bring flowers and candles for a vigil in honor of Kremlin’s critic Alexei Navalny following is death, on February 19, 2024 in front of Rome’s city hall. Russia reported Navalny’s death in an arctic prison on February 16, 2024 and his mother has been denied access to the body, enraging supporters who have accused authorities of trying to cover up Navalny’s “murder”. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

After Putin invaded Ukraine in 2022, the Biden administration hit Russia with a range of economic sanctions that blocked major Russian financial institutions from Western financing, banned the U.S. import of all Russian energy products and penalized wealthy Russian oligarchs tied to Putin, among a host of other actions.

“This is another turn of the crank, another turn of the wheel, and it is a significant range of targets that we have worked persistently and diligently to identify to continue to impose costs for what Russia has done,” Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, said of the new sanctions.

Although Biden immediately pinned responsibility on Putin, the U.S. has still not determined how Navalny, 47, died while in captivity in an Arctic Circle maximum-security prison.

More: Yulia Navalnaya, Alexei Navalny’s wife, says she will lead fight against Russia’s Putin

“We all would love to know what happened here,” Kirby said. “Regardless of the actual scientific answer, Mr. Putin is responsible for it.”

The White House also called out the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for leaving for a two-week recess without approving $60 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, arguing the lack of supplies is already showing on the battlefield.

Kirby said passing the funding package is “one of the most powerful things that we can do right now to stand up to Vladimir Putin.”

Kirby blamed Ukraine’s retreat from the town of Avdiivka, which was taken over by Russian forces over the weekend, on a lack of arms and ammunition as a result of Congress’ failure to approve the aid.

“It was because of congressional inaction,” Kirby said. “We’ve been warning Congress that if they didn’t act, Ukraine would suffer losses on the battlefield, and here you go. That’s what happened this weekend. And that’s what’s at stake here.”

More: Donald Trump says Alexei Navalny’s death made him ‘more aware’ of his own political rivals, court cases

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Biden to hit Russia with ‘major sanctions’ in response to death of Navalny

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