The Biden administration announced, Tuesday, the imposition of sanctions on a number of Russian entities and senior officials, in response to the poisoning and imprisonment of Russian opponent Alexei Navalny. For its part, the European Union has officially decided to impose sanctions on four Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin.
On Tuesday, March 2, the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russian officials and entities for their involvement in poisoning opponent Alexei Navalny last August.
Biden administration officials announced, speaking to the press in a phone call, that Washington has decided, in coordination with the European Union, to punish seven senior Russian government officials, including freezing their property in the United States.
They added that 14 entities involved in the production of biological and chemical agents in Russia, including 13 companies and a general research institute, were also punished.
For its part, the European Union has officially decided to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin, in a move approved by the foreign ministers of member states last week.
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European sanctions are charging Alexander Bastrykin, head of an investigative committee that reports directly to Vladimir Putin, Igor Krasnov, Russia’s public prosecutor since 2020, and Viktor Zolotov, the head of the Russian National Guard who has publicly threatened Alexei Navalny and Alexander. Kalashnikov, head of the Russian Federal Prison Service.
Biden administration officials also reiterated the new US president’s call for the release of the Russian opponent.
A firmer stance than Moscow
After announcing these measures, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the “anti-Russian attack” within the framework of “an American policy devoid of logic and meaning and which only leads to further damage to bilateral relations” with Moscow.
The “victories of absurdity” were also confirmed by the Russian diplomat, who accused Washington of using Alexei Navalny “as a pretext” for “overt interference” in Russia’s “internal affairs”.
Joe Biden, who took office on Jan.20, to impose sanctions on the issue, demonstrates his willingness to take a more assertive stance on Moscow than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who took no punitive action after poisoning the high-profile opponent last August. The Kremlin.
Alexei Navalny fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was rushed to hospital in Omsk, Siberia, in critical condition before being transferred to Germany. The Kremlin denies it played any role in the issue.
According to Biden administration officials, the sanctions are a response to what Washington considers a Russian poisoning attempt. “Russia’s attempt to kill Navalny follows a disturbing pattern of Russia’s use of chemical weapons,” one US official said.
Another Biden administration official said, “The United States is not seeking to reset or intensify relations with Russia.” “We believe that the United States and its partners should be clear and impose retaliatory measures when Russia’s behavior crosses the lines set by the responsible countries (…),” he added.
Other US sanctions are under consideration
Washington is also considering new sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s role in hacking the US software company, SolarWinds, and accusations of paying bounties to fighters linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan for killing American soldiers. Moscow is also suspected of trying to interfere in the US elections last year.
Before formalizing the US sanctions, sources interviewed by Reuters indicated that Washington was relying on two decrees, one of them issued after the Russian invasion of Crimea, which allowed the administration to impose sanctions on Russian representatives. The two decrees provide for an asset freeze in the United States of targeted people and a ban on companies and individuals in the country from negotiating with them.
European Union foreign ministers agreed on February 22 to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin in a primarily symbolic response to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.
Berlin said last year it was certain that Alexei Navalny had been poisoned by a product of the Novichok family, a neurotoxin already used against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018.
After completing his treatment in Germany, Alexei Navalny, 44, returned in January to Russia, where he was arrested and sentenced to more than two and a half years in prison for violating prison terms.
Joe Biden described Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment last month as “politically motivated” and called for the opponent’s release. He promised to take a tough stance towards Moscow, stressing that the United States would not “fall” against Russia.