US foreign policy

US sanctions Russian officials over Navalny poisoning as Biden toughens stance

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The United States Tuesday announced sanctions against senior Russian officials and entities for their role in poisoning and attempting to assassinate Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Senior Biden administration officials revealed the decision in a phone call with reporters.

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“We expect our relationship with Russia to be challenging,” one US official said, adding that the Biden administration did not want to reset or escalate ties with Russia.

With Tuesday's announcement, the US was “catching up” to the European Union in sanctioning Russia for its “gross violations of human rights.”

The list of individuals sanctioned includes some names that Navalny’s supporters have been proposing to be sanctioned, but the officials would not elaborate. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), the US officials, said had a role in the operation to try to kill Navalny.

A second official said that 14 parties would be added to the US restrictions list, which prevents companies from exporting or dealing with them. Nine of the companies are in Russia, three in Germany, 1 in Switzerland and another is a government research center.

Navalny, 44, was taken to Germany last year after being poisoned with what US officials have said was poisoned with nerve agent Novichok.

Upon returning to Russia in January, he was immediately arrested and sentenced to more than two-and-a-half years in jail.

More sanctions coming

US officials hinted that more sanctions would be announced against Russia in the coming weeks and months, without specifying a date.

The sanctions for the Navalny poisoning were the first batch.

There are four separate assessments related to four areas of Russia’s activity the US considers malign. The others are related to the bounties on US troops, the Solar Winds hack and election interference, according to the officials.

US coordination with EU

The sanctions move was coordinated with Washington's European partners. EU member states have already sanctioned Russian officials for the poisoning despite warnings from the Kremlin that such moves could harm bilateral ties.

Following the US decision on Tuesday, the EU announced more sanctions on four senior Russian officials for the Navalny case.

The 27-nation bloc imposed bans on travel and froze the assets in Europe of Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the prosecutor general, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service.

One US official said earlier Tuesday: "We share the EU’s assessment that Russia is moving towards authoritarianism."

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Kremlin says US sanction on Russia’s treatment of Navalny will worsen relations

FM Lavrov says Russia will respond in kind to any newly imposed US sanctions: Ifax

- with AP

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