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Biden will announce ‘major’ new sanctions to hold Putin to account for Alexei Navalny’s death: White House to unveil new package cracking down on Russian tyrant after chief critic was ‘tortured and murdered’ in prison


The White House will announce ‘a major sanctions package’ against Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold him accountable for the death of Alexei Navalny and for the two years of war in the Ukraine.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that the new package would be unveiled this Friday. He declined to detail the sanctions or say how they would expand on the strigent sanctions that the U.S. and its allies have already put on Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. 

‘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 and at President Biden’s direction, we will be announcing a major sanctions package on Friday of this week to hold Russia accountable.’

Alexei Navalny died in a Russian prison

Alexei Navalny died in a Russian prison

The new sanctions will fall on the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

Navalny died in prison on Friday. His death, a month before Russia’s presidential election, shocked the world. 

Russian authorities said that 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 U.S. had not determined how Navalny had died, but insisted that the ultimate responsibility for the death of the Russian opposition leader lies with Putin.

‘Regardless of the scientific answer, Putin’s responsible for it,’ he said.

Navalny’s widow vowed on Monday to continue his fight against the Kremlin, while authorities denied his mother access to a morgue where his body is believed to be held after his death.

With her voice cracking 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.

Navalny’s death has deprived the Russian opposition of is most well-known and inspiring politician less than a month before an election that is all but certain to 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 unrelenting crackdown on the opposition. 

He had been imprisoned since January 2021 when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from a nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.

He received three prison terms since his arrest, on a number of charges he has rejected as politically motivated.

‘They are cowardly and meanly hiding his body, refusing to give it to his mother and lying miserably while waiting for the trace of’ poison to disappear, Navalnaya said, suggesting her husband might have been killed with a Novichok-style nerve agent.

In this image taken from video released by Navalny Team on Monday, Feb. 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

In this image taken from video released by Navalny Team on Monday, Feb. 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

The U.S. will announce new sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday

The U.S. will announce new sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday

Meanwhile, Kirby also echoed the repeated calls from the White House for Congress to pass additional funding for aid to the Ukraine. 

‘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 as they continue to fight,’ he said.

The Senate passed a $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine but House Speaker Mike Johnson is stalling action on that side of the Capitol. 

Ukraine has suffered a significant setbacks to Russian forces on the battlefield, which U.S. officials have attributed to the lack of supplies for Ukrainian forces. 

‘We need the supplemental funding. We absolutely have to have the supplemental funding to be able to continue to support Ukraine,’ Kirby said. 

Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky said delays in military aid have made life ‘very difficult’ for his soldiers and said Russia is taking advantage of American in-fighting. 

‘The situation is extremely difficult in several parts of the front line, where Russian troops have amassed maximum reserves,’ he said Monday in a nightly address. 

Russians ‘are taking advantage of the delays in aid to Ukraine,’ he added. 

Johnson has insisted he must first sit down with President Biden to discuss attaching border security to the deal. The House is currently on recess and does not return until the middle of next week. 

Kirby indicated lawmakers should come back to Washington to pass the aid package.

‘As we’ve said, he had sat down and discussed this with Speaker Johnson and other congressional leaders, including at the White House, several weeks ago the importance of this supplemental funding,’ he said. ‘The Speaker got exactly what he wanted and then decided that he didn’t want it.’

‘We’re at a critical time. And I believe that the President’s comments and willingness to have another conversation with the Speaker reflect the sense of urgency that we all know and believe we’re in and, frankly, we believe Congress should believe we’re in, instead of being on vacation,’ he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) greets US President Joe Biden (right) during the US - Russia Summit 2021 at the La Grange Villa near Lake Geneva, on June 16, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) greets US President Joe Biden (right) during the US – Russia Summit 2021 at the La Grange Villa near Lake Geneva, on June 16, 2021

'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,' White House spokesman John Kirby said. 'In response and at President Biden's direction, we will be announcing a major sanctions package on Friday of this week to hold Russia accountable.'

‘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,’ White House spokesman John Kirby said. ‘In response and at President Biden’s direction, we will be announcing 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 some $54 billion for Ukraine earlier this month. Sweden on Tuesday announced its largest aid package yet and Canada said it was expediting the delivery of more than 800 drones.

Biden, meanwhile, tore into House Republicans for leaving town for nearly two weeks without approving aid. 

‘It’s about time they step up — don’t you think? — instead of going on a two-week vacation,’ Biden said Friday. ‘Two weeks they’re walking away. Two weeks. What are they thinking? My God, this is bizarre.’



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