Biden administration prepares to impose sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning

Washington The Biden administration is preparing to impose sanctions on Russia in the coming weeks over the poisoning and jailing of Russia opposition leader Alexey Navalny, according to two administration officials familiar with the matter.

The form the sanctions will take is being firmed up and they will likely be rolled out in coordination with the European Union, the officials said.
This move could be the first cost imposed on Russia by the Biden administration, which has condemned the treatment of Navalny and those protesting on his behalf, and would mark a clear departure from the strategy of the Trump administration, which failed to impose penalties over the poisoning and shied away from directly confronting Russia over its misdeeds.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell said Tuesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked to coordinate actions against Russia over the Navalny case. Blinken addressed the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday.
    The discussions over the Navalny sanctions are happening as the White House also prepares to take a series of steps in the weeks ahead against those they believe are accountable for the SolarWinds cyber hack, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN last week.
    Sullivan also said that ‘what the previous administration said was, quote, ‘that it was likely of Russian origin.’ We believe we can go further than that.”
    The Biden administration is not starting from scratch as they draft the options for Navalny sanctions. The State Department drew up options last year under the Trump administration but they were never imposed, a decision which mystified working level officials who developed them, one of the officials explained.
    Politico was first to report that the sanctions preparations are underway.
    Career diplomats grew frustrated throughout the Trump administration over inaction when it came to Russia. They have privately welcomed the direct nature of President Joe Biden’s first phone call with Putin, in which he confronted Putin about Russia’s malicious activities which former President Donald Trump had often avoided, three US diplomats told CNN.
    The inaction of the Trump administration put the US out of step with its European allies when it comes to the poisoning of Navalny. EU nations rolled out Navalny sanctions shortly after his poisoning last year, but the US did not.
    Blinken participated virtually in yesterday’s EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on Monday and said he “welcomed the EU’s decision to impose sanctions against Russia under the human rights sanctions regime in response to actions taken against [Navalny] and his supporters.”
    Biden administration officials point to ongoing intelligence reviews and their necessity of fully understanding the state of play before rolling out their entire Russia policy. The intelligence review includes the SolarWinds breach, Russian interference in the 2020 election, Russia’s use of chemical weapons against Navalny, and the alleged bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan.
    The White House did not reply to a request for comment.
      Administration officials have promised that the intelligence review will move as expediently as possible.
      “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is working on this review very expeditiously,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price earlier this month. “I wouldn’t expect this review to take any longer than necessary.”

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