The White House will announce ‘a major package of sanctions’ against Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold him responsible for the death of Alexei Navalny and the two-year war in Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that the new package will be released this Friday. He declined to detail the sanctions or say how they would expand the severe sanctions the United States and its allies have already imposed on Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Whatever story the Russian government decides to tell the world, it is clear that President Putin and his government are responsible for Mr. Navalny’s death,” Kirby said. “In response and at President Biden’s direction, we will announce a major sanctions package on Friday of this week to hold Russia accountable.”
Alexei Navalny died in a Russian prison
The new sanctions will fall on the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Navalny He died in prison on Friday.. His death, a month before Russia’s presidential election, shocked the world.
Russian authorities said the cause of Navalny’s death at age 47 is still unknown and the results of any investigation are likely to be questioned abroad. Many Western leaders have already said they hold Putin responsible for the death.
Kirby said the United States had not determined how Navalny had died, but insisted that ultimate responsibility for the Russian opposition leader’s death lay with Putin.
“Regardless of the scientific answer, Putin is responsible for it,” he said.
Navalny’s widow vowed on Monday to continue her fight against the Kremlin, while authorities denied her mother access to a morgue where his body is believed to be located after his death.
Her voice breaking at times in a video posted on social media, Yulia Navalnaya accused Putin of killing her husband in the remote prison and alleged that officials’ refusal to hand over the body to her mother-in-law was part of a cover-up. above.
Navalny’s death has deprived the Russian opposition of its best-known and most inspiring politician less than a month before an election that will surely give Putin another six years in power.
It dealt a devastating blow to many Russians, who had seen Navalny as a rare hope for political change amid Putin’s relentless crackdown on the opposition.
He had been imprisoned since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recovering in Germany from a nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.
He received three prison sentences. since his arrest, for a series of charges that he has rejected as politically motivated.
“They are cowardly and meanly hiding his body, refusing to hand it over to his mother and lying miserably while waiting for the trace of the poison to disappear,” Navalnaya said, suggesting her husband could have been killed with a Novichok-style nerve agent.
In this image taken from a video published by Navalny Team on Monday, February 19, 2024, Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, gives a video message calling on Russian citizens to join her in the fight against Putin.
US to announce new sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday
Meanwhile, Kirby also echoed the White House’s repeated calls for Congress to approve additional funding for aid to Ukraine.
“One of the most powerful things we can do now to confront Vladimir Putin, of course, is to repass the bipartisan national security supplemental bill and support Ukraine as it continues to fight,” he said.
The Senate approved $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson is stalling action on that side of the Capitol.
Ukraine has suffered significant setbacks against Russian forces on the battlefield, which U.S. officials have attributed to a lack of supplies for Ukrainian forces.
‘We need additional financing. Additional funding is absolutely necessary to continue supporting Ukraine,” Kirby said.
Ukrainian President Voldymyr. zelenski He said delays in military aid have made life “very difficult” for his soldiers and said Russia is taking advantage of American infighting.
“The situation is extremely difficult in several parts of the front line, where Russian troops have accumulated maximum reserves,” he said in a late-night speech on Monday.
The Russians “are taking advantage of delays in aid to Ukraine,” he added.
Johnson has insisted that he must first sit down with President Biden to discuss the possibility of including border security in the agreement. The House is currently on recess and will not return until the middle of next week.
Kirby indicated that lawmakers should return to Washington to approve the relief package.
“As we’ve said, several weeks ago we sat down and discussed with President Johnson and other congressional leaders, including in the White House, the importance of this supplemental funding,” he said. ‘He Speaker got exactly what he wanted and then decided he didn’t want it.
‘Were at a critical moment. And I think the President’s comments and his willingness to have another conversation with the Speaker reflect the sense of urgency that we all know and believe we are in and, frankly, we think Congress should believe we are, rather than being vacation. ”He added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) greets US President Joe Biden (right) during the 2021 US-Russia Summit at La Grange Villa near Lake Geneva on June 16, 2021.
“Whatever story the Russian government decides to tell the world, it is clear that President Putin and his government are responsible for Mr. Navalny’s death,” White House spokesman John Kirby said. “In response and at President Biden’s direction, we will announce a major sanctions package on Friday of this week to hold Russia accountable.”
Some aid is on its way to Ukraine from other allies.
The European Union just approved about $54 billion for Ukraine earlier this month. Sweden announced its biggest aid package yet on Tuesday and Canada said it was speeding up the delivery of more than 800 drones.
Meanwhile, Biden criticized House Republicans for leaving town for nearly two weeks without approving the aid.
‘It’s time they took a step forward, don’t you think? — instead of taking a two-week vacation,” Biden said Friday. ‘For two weeks they’re gone. Two weeks. What are you thinking? Oh my God, this is weird.