US to impose ‘major sanctions package’ on Russia over Alexei Navalny’s death

Sanctions package was already being planned to mark 2nd anniversary of Ukraine war, senior US official says

A person gestures in front of portraits of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as people attend a protest and vigil held in front of the Russian embassy following the death of Navalny, in Kappara, Malta, February 19, 2024. — Reuters

The United States is set to impose significant sanctions on Russia on Friday over the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the ongoing Ukraine conflict, according to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, who did not provide further details.

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

The package will “hold Russia accountable for what happened to Mr. Navalny” and for its actions throughout 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.

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

The Treasury said Nelson is also discussing Washington’s authority to target those funding Russia’s war production efforts, even if they are in third countries. It added that the US is “aggressively pursuing those who attempt to evade our sanctions.”

The US has imposed a wide array of sanctions on Russia, including President Vladimir Putin, officials, and banks, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 2022.

The sanctions also targeted the 2020 poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny, targeting individuals 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.

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