US to sanction Russia over Navalny’s death, war against Ukraine

The US will announce a major package of sanctions against Russia on Friday over the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the two-year Ukraine war, President Joe Biden said on yesterday, Reuters reported.

Biden, speaking to reporters as he departed on a trip to California, did not give details.

The latest sanctions on Russia will target a range of items, including the country’s defense and industrial bases, along with sources of revenue for the economy, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

The package will “hold Russia accountable for what happened to Mr. Navalny” and for its actions over the course of the war in Ukraine, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.

A senior US official said a sanctions package was already being planned to mark the second anniversary of the war, which Washington will now reconsider and supplement in response to Navalny’s death.

The Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, is discussing sanctions over Navalny’s death on a trip to Europe this week, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Nelson, in visits to Germany, Belgium and France ahead of the second anniversary of the Ukraine war, is also discussing Washington’s authority to target those funding Russia’s war production efforts even if they are in third countries, the Treasury said. It said the US is “aggressively pursuing those who attempt to evade our sanctions.”

The United States already has issued a wide array of sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 2022, including on Russian President Vladimir Putin, officials and banks.

Washington has also previously imposed sanctions over the 2020 poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny, targeting among them people linked to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and other officials.

Navalny, Putin’s fiercest domestic critic, fell unconscious and died suddenly on Friday after a walk at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony above the Arctic Circle where he was serving a three-decade sentence, the prison service said.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kirby said the United States is pressing Russia for “complete transparency” on how Navalny died last Friday. Biden has blamed Putin.

“Whatever story the Russian government decides to tell the world, it’s clear that President Putin and his government are responsible for Mr. Navalny’s death,” Kirby said.

The US embassy in Moscow has been seeking more information about Navalny’s death, Kirby said, “but it’s difficult to get a point where you can be confident in what the Russians would say about his death.”