2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hearing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to consider an appeal against an earlier court decision to change his suspended sentence to an actual prison sentence 2/2
By Steve Holland, Humeyra Pamuk and Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is expected to impose sanctions to punish Russia for the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Tuesday, two sources familiar with the matter said. President Joe Biden‘s decision to impose sanctions for the Navalny poisoning reflects a tougher stance than that taken by his predecessor, Donald Trump, who let the incident slide last August without punitive action by the United States. Navalny fell ill on a flight over Siberia in August and was flown to Germany, where doctors concluded that he had been poisoned with a nerve agent. The Kremlin has denied any role in his illness and said it had seen no evidence that he was poisoned. The sources said Monday, on condition of anonymity, that the United States was expected to act under two executive orders: 13661, which was issued after Russia’s invasion of Crimea, but provides broad authority to target Russian officials, and 13382. , issued in 2005 to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Both orders allow the United States to freeze the US assets of those affected and effectively prohibit US companies and individuals from dealing with them. Sources said the Biden administration also planned to act under the United States Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and War Elimination Act of 1991, which provides a menu of punitive measures. The sources said that some people would be the target of the sanctions to be announced on Tuesday, but declined to name them or say what other sanctions can be imposed. However, they added that Washington would maintain exemptions that allow foreign aid and certain export licenses for Russia. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of sanctions. A third source said the US action could be coordinated with sanctions that the European Union could apply on Tuesday. EU foreign ministers agreed on February 22 to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin in a largely symbolic response to Navalny’s imprisonment. The EU was expected to formally approve them in early March. In the Navalny case, Trump, whose term ended in January, did nothing to punish Russia. Top UN human rights experts said on Monday that Moscow was guilty of trying to kill Navalny as part of a pattern of targeting critics to stifle dissent. After his medical treatment in Germany, Navalny, 44, returned to Russia in January. He was arrested and later sentenced to more than two and a half years in jail for parole violations that he claimed were fabricated. Last month, Biden called Navalny’s imprisonment “politically motivated” and called for his release. He has promised a tough new approach to Moscow, saying the United States is no longer “turning back” on aggressive Russian action. Washington and Moscow disagree on a wide range of issues other than Navalny, such as Russia’s military ambitions in Ukraine and Georgia, as well as a cyberattack on US government agencies last year that Washington blames on Russia. Moscow has denied responsibility for the piracy campaign.