Fri | Oct 15, 2021

US sets sanctions over Russia opposition leader’s poisoning

Published:Tuesday | March 2, 2021 | 1:10 PM
In this Saturday, February 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures as he stands behind a glass cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. Navalny was transported to a prison 100km away from Moscow. Navalny was taken to a prison in Pokrov city after the Moscow city court rejected an appeal against his prison sentence on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

The Biden administration announced sanctions of Russian officials and businesses Tuesday for a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack upon opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing.

Senior administration officials did not immediately identify the Russian officials targeted but said some of them had been on a list of prominent business and political figures Navalny had urged the West to sanction.

Some opposition figures and their supporters said the latest US measures, restricting the US travel and banking of some Russian government figures, didn’t go far enough to get the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia critic William Browder, a London-based investor, tweeted he feared US sanctions would be “way too little and not touch Putin’s billionaire cronies.”

The Biden administration also announced sanctions under the US Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act for 13 businesses and another enterprise, most of which it said were involved in the production of biological and chemical agents.

The US intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia’s Federal Security Service used the Russian nerve agent Novichok on Navalny last August, a senior administration official said.

Tuesday’s sanctions would be the first of several steps by the Biden administration to “respond to a number of destabilising actions,” said one of the administration officials, who briefed reporters on the condition they not be identified further.

The sanctions are the first against Russia by the Biden administration, which has pledged to confront Putin for alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and any malign actions abroad, including the hacking of US government agencies and US businesses.

President Donald Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism of Putin’s government.

That included dismissing US intelligence findings that Russia had backed Trump in its covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

President Joe Biden is not seeking either a reset of relations with Russia or an escalation against it, the US official said.

Rather, the US intends to “hold Russia to account for its actions.

It is also committed to working with Russia in areas that advance its interests.”

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