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Biden administration to impose 'major sanctions' in response to Alexei Navalny's murder

by Rachel Amran and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 20, 2024 8:39 PM 3 min read
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby in D.C. on Feb. 15, 2024. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
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The White House is preparing  “major sanctions” against Russia in response to opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s murder in an Arctic penal colony in Russia, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Feb. 20.

Kirby said the new package will be unveiled on Feb. 23, but declined to provide details of the package's contents or how the new sanctions would expand on the economic and political sanctions already in place.

The announcement will coincide with the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden announced that he was considering additional sanctions against Russia over Navalny's death. In 2021, Biden warned that there would be "devastating" consequences if Navalny died in jail.

Leaders around the world have blamed Putin for his death. Opinions differ on whether his death was caused by the harsh prison conditions or was an intentional murder. Navalny's team, including his wife and family, maintain that Russian President Vladimir Putin murdered Navalny.

Kirby stated that the U.S. has not yet determined how Navalny died but insisted that Putin is ultimately responsible for his death.

Alexei Navalny’s life and death as main opponent to Putin regime
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death on Feb. 16 did not come as a surprise for those familiar with Russian politics. Navalny was Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s main opponent, and the Kremlin had used all the tools at its disposal to shut him up. He was sentenced in several fabricate…

Navalny, Putin's main political opponent, died on Feb. 16 in a penal colony in the town of Kharp, Yamal Nenets Autonomous District. He had been convicted in several fabricated criminal cases as part of the Kremlin's crackdown on dissent.

Alexei's wife Yulia appealed to the European Union on Monday to strengthen sanctions on Putin's allies in response to her husband's death.

"Introduce sanctions," Yulia said. "Punish his so-called “confidants” - there are approximately 500 of them. Celebrities, singers, and actors who campaign for Putin support him and help his murderous regime survive. If they love Putin so much, why do they have houses and villas in Europe? Their children and wives are all here too."

The US and EU imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow after Navalny was poisoned in Russia in 2020 with a Novichok nerve agent — a chemical weapon produced by the Russian government.

The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, also said on Feb. 19 that EU member states would propose sanctions against those behind Navalny's death. Borrell said that Putin was the one ultimately responsible, and the EU's potential sanctions "can go down to the institutional structure of the penitentiary system in Russia."

He did not clarify what concrete actions would be taken.

Navalny’s death preceded by long list of Putin critics’ murders
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death in jail on Feb. 16 follows a long list of murders and suspicious deaths of opponents of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Since he came to power in 1999, more than 20 Putin critics have been killed or died mysteriously. Many other enemies of the
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