Biden vows sanctions Friday against Putin

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President Biden said Thursday he will announce sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the death of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Biden made the announcement after meeting in California with Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, and their daughter Dasha.

“This morning I had the honor of meeting with Alexei Navalny’s wife and daughter. We are going to announce sanctions against Putin who is responsible for his death tomorrow,” the president said. “We are not letting up.”

The administration had signaled earlier this week they are planning to announce a package of sanctions in response to Navalny’s death in a penal colony and the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian authorities declared Navalny died of natural causes, falling unconscious after taking a walk.

Biden has joined Navalny’s supporters in blaming Putin for the death.

Navalny was serving more than 20 years in prison on charges widely condemned as politically motivated.

He was arrested in Russia in 2022 after he returned to the country after recuperating for a year in Germany from being poisoned in Russia. It is believed he was the victim of an assassination effort by the FSB, the Russian internal security service.

During a summit in June 2021, Biden warned Putin that if Navalny died, the consequences would be devastating for Russia. Administration officials have held back on previewing their sanctions.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller described the sanctions as a “robust” package aimed at choking off the Russian war machine.

“You should expect them to follow the general direction of our past sanctions, as well as some sanctions specifically related to the death of Alexei Navalny,” Miller said.

They would come on top of dozens of sanctions packages issued over the last two years. The U.S. blacklisted Putin as a “specially designated national” the day after the invasion of Ukraine, blocking any property he may hold in the U.S. and preventing his travel to the U.S.

The U.S. has sanctioned at least 47 Russian banks, according to a tally by Ukrainian officials. But Ukraine has argued these sanctions do not go far enough and that there are approximately 324 Russian banks that operate under the control of the Kremlin.

Russia has managed to survive the sanctions by continuing to sell oil, albeit at a lower price, but with enough profit to buoy its economy. It has also sought to evade sanctions on critical technologies by routing purchase through third countries that are not signed up to international efforts to block exports to Russia.

“This is a dynamic situation,” Miller said of Russia’s sanctions evasion.

“Russia watches the sanctions, sees the sanctions and tries to respond to the sanctions we impose. And so we watch the actions they take and we look to impose new sanctions either on individuals or areas they explore, and also focus on sanctions evasion when we see them or entities that deal with Russia trying to evade the sanctions that we previously put in place, we have ways to tighten those sanctions.”

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