White House to expand Russia sanctions over Alexei Navalny's death

Flowers and a portrait of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are seen following Navalny’s death, as people gather near the Russian embassy in Paris, France, February 16, 2024. 

Gonzalo Fuentes | Reuters

The White House plans to announce new sanctions against Russia in response to the death of the high-profile Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny last week, National Security Spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday.

“Whatever story the Russian government decides to tell the world, it’s clear that President Putin and his government are responsible for Mr. Navalny’s death,” Kirby said. “In response, at President Biden’s direction, we will be announcing a major sanctions package on Friday of this week.”

The U.S. has already imposed significant trade restrictions on Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine roughly two years ago.

Kirby noted that the new sanctions will build on the ongoing effort to stifle Russia’s economy, while also adding specific restrictions over Navalny’s death. He added that details about the sanctions will be available Friday.

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Navalny, has held Putin responsible for her husband’s death last Friday, which the Kremlin has denied. The prison where Navalny was held claimed that he lost consciousness after going for a walk and could not be resuscitated. The Russian government said Monday it is investigating Navalny’s cause of death.

The aftermath of Navalny’s death comes while Congress is on recess and a $95 billion aid package with significant Ukraine funding remains deadlocked.

Kirby said that Navalny’s death highlighted the need for Congress to end the stalemate and pass the funding package to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russia.

“One of the most powerful things that we can do right now to stand up to Vladimir Putin, of course, is to again, pass the bipartisan national security supplemental bill and support Ukraine,” Kirby said.

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