Washington, March 2
The Biden administrationon Tuesday imposed sanctions on Russian officials and businesses over the poisoning and jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, whose detention drew tens of thousands of protesters out on streets.
Senior administration officials announced the sanctions but did not immediately identify the Russian officials named in them. The Biden administration also announced sanctions for 14 businesses and another enterprise, most of which it said were involved in production of biological and chemical agents.
Tuesday’s sanctions would be the first of several steps by the Biden administration to “respond to a number of destabilising actions,” said one of the administration officials.
The sanctions are the first against Russia by the Biden administration, which has pledged to confront President Vladimir Putin for alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and hacking abroad, including of U.S. government agencies and U.S. businesses. President Donald Trump had spoken admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism and many proposed penalties of Putin’s government.
The Biden administration coordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which already had imposed sanctions against a small number of Russian officials and is expected to announce more. Some rights groups have faulted the EU for not targeting the most important Russian officials allegedly involved.
The Biden administration had forecast for weeks actions against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies. AP
Seven senior officials to face music
- The officials said seven senior Russian government officials would face sanctions, such as asset freeze.
- Fourteen entities associated with Russia’s biological and chemical agent production, including 13 commercial parties and a government research institute, were levied punitive measures.
- The US move was being taken in coordination with the EU. The officials reiterated Biden’s call for Russia to release Navalny from prison. The US President has taken a tougher approach.
Will respond in kind: Foreign Minister
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said before the US announcement that Moscow would respond in kind to any new US sanctions over opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
- After his medical treatment in Germany, Navalny, 44, returned to Russia in January. He was arrested and later sentenced to more than 2-1/2 years in jail for parole violations he said were trumped up.