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US and EU sanction several senior Russian officials

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The Biden administration on Tuesday announced sanctions against several Russian entities and senior officials, in response to the poisoning and imprisonment of Russian opponent Alexei Navalny. For its part, the EU has officially decided to impose sanctions on four Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin.

The United States and the European Union imposed, Tuesday, March 2, sanctions against officials and Russian entities for their involvement in the poisoning of the opponent Alexeï Navalny last August.

Speaking to the press on a conference call, officials in the Biden administration announced that Washington had decided, in coordination with the European Union (EU), to sanction seven senior Russian government officials, including freezing their holdings in the United States.

Fourteen entities involved in the production of biological and chemical agents in Russia, including 13 companies and a public research institute, were also sanctioned, they added.

The EU, for its part, has officially decided to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin, a move approved by member countries’ foreign ministers last week.

>> To read also: “Alexeï Navalny or the path strewn with pitfalls of an anti-corruption activist”

The European sanctions concern Alexander Bastrykin, the head of a commission of inquiry that reports directly to Vladimir Putin, Igor Krasnov, the Attorney General of Russia since 2020, Viktor Zolotov, the head of the Russian National Guard who publicly threatened Alexei Navalny, and Alexander Kalashnikov, the head of the Russian Federal Prison Service.

Officials in the Biden administration have also reiterated the new US president’s call for the release of the Russian opponent.

A firmer stance on Moscow

After the announcement of these measures, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced a “hostile anti-Russian attack” as part of an “American policy devoid of logic and meaning which only further damages bilateral relations” with Moscow. .

“The absurdity triumphs”, again affirmed the Russian diplomacy, which accuses Washington of using Alexeï Navalny as “pretext” to “interfere openly” in the “internal affairs” of Russia.

Joe Biden’s decision, who took office on January 20, to impose sanctions in this affair illustrates his willingness to take a firmer stance towards Moscow than his predecessor Donald Trump, who took no action. punitive after the poisoning last August of the prominent opponent of the Kremlin.

Alexei Navalny felt ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was urgently hospitalized in Omsk, Siberia, in serious condition before being transferred to Germany. The Kremlin denies having played any role in this affair.

According to officials in the Biden administration, the sanctions are a response to what Washington sees as a Russian poisoning attempt. “Russia’s attempt to kill Navalny follows a worrying pattern of Russia’s use of chemical weapons,” said one of the US officials.

“The United States is neither seeking to reset nor intensify relations with Russia,” another official in the Biden administration said. “We believe that the United States and its partners must be clear and impose retaliatory measures when Russia’s behavior goes beyond the lines defined by responsible nations (…)”, he added.

Other US sanctions under consideration

Washington is also examining new sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s role in hacking US software provider SolarWinds and accusations that bounties were paid to fighters linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan so that they are killing American soldiers. Moscow is also suspected of trying to intervene in the US elections last year.

Before the formalization of US sanctions, sources interviewed by Reuters had indicated that Washington intended to rely on two decrees, including one issued after Russia’s invasion of Crimea, which allows the administration to sanction Russian representatives. . The two decrees provide for the freezing of the assets in the United States of the targeted persons and the prohibition on the companies and individuals of the country to negotiate with them.

EU foreign ministers agreed on February 22 to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin in a primarily symbolic response to the poisoning of Alexey Navalny.

Berlin said last year that it was certain that Alexey Navalny had been poisoned by a product of the Novichok family, a nerve substance already used against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018.

After completing his treatment in Germany, Alexei Navalny, 44, returned in January to Russia, where he was arrested and sentenced to more than two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of a sentence with stay.

Joe Biden described the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny last month as “politically motivated” and called for the opponent’s release. He promised to take a hard line on Moscow, assuring that the United States would not “crash” against Russia.

With Reuters

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