The Biden administration launched its first sanctions against Putin’s Russia. The United States has pointed the finger at the Kremlin’s intelligence services, accusing it of being behind the alleged poisoning of the deadly neurotoxin Novichuk that has long made people fear for the life of Putin’s first opponent, Alexei Navalny, and thus announced sanctions against him. 14 companies are involved in the production of chemicals and against seven high-ranking Russian officials, including the powerful leader of Moscow 007, Alexander Portnikov. The United States has also expanded restrictions on exports to Russia of materials that can be used to produce chemical and biological agents.
Washington’s strike against the Kremlin comes on the day the European Union formalized a new series of restrictive measures for the Navalny case, which damaged four members of the Russian state apparatus, and this is certainly no coincidence. In fact, the United States has stressed that it wants to coordinate with Brussels for a more effective policy line toward Moscow. The agreement with the European Union can also be seen from the names of those subject to the sanctions announced by the US authorities in the evening. In fact, the seven top Russian leaders already ended up hitting Brussels for the two-round sanctions launched by the European Union first for being poisoned and then, today, for Navalny’s prison.
With Joe Biden in the White House, Washington’s stance toward Putin has become more assertive than it was in the days of Trump, who refused to strike Russia to poison Navalny. The United States also reserves the right to impose new sanctions on Moscow in the future, but it is talking on other fronts, as evidenced by the renewal of the New Beginning, the agreement between Russia and the United States that limits strategic nuclear weapons.
White House spokeswoman Jane Psaki said that CIA believes it is very likely that Kremlin intelligence agents “used a neurotoxin to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.” “We are sending to Russia a clear signal that there are consequences for the use of chemical weapons,” an American executive official quoted by Agence France-Presse said.
Traces of Novichok in Navalny were found by specialized laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, as well as by international experts from Opac. But Moscow denies any responsibility, and today, even before the US sanctions became official, veteran Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated that Russia would respond “definitely” to the restrictive measures launched by Washington. He will certainly do the same for the sanctions in Brussels, as Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizov, has already promised.
Who are the Russian officials subject to sanctions?
In addition to the Director of Russian Intelligence, the United States punished the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kerenko, the former Prime Minister together with Yeltsin and the former Co-Chairman of the State Committee for Chemical Weapons Disarmament, and Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko. Pavel Popov, head of the domestic policy department of Russian President Andrei Yarin, who is suspected of being on a task force tasked with discrediting Navalny in order to reduce his popularity, and FPRS director Alexander Kalashnikov and Attorney General Igor Krasnov. The European Union had already imposed sanctions on the top five in October because they were responsible for the alleged attempt to kill the dissident. Instead, the other two were put on a European blacklist today with Director of the Investigation Commission Alexander Bastrykin and Commander of the National Guard Viktor Zolotov.
Navalny was transferred to a harsh prison
Alexei Navalny is considered Putin’s main opponent and the most adept of the opponents in organizing mass demonstrations by dragging thousands of people onto the streets against the Kremlin. Shunned by state television, which does not give space to opponents, Navalny has shown himself on the Internet with his criticism of the government and above all with video investigations of his anti-corruption foundation that have often embarrassed Putin’s entourage.
The opponent collapsed on a plane flying from Tomsk to Moscow last August, forcing the pilots to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he received his first treatment before being transported in a coma to Berlin to receive treatment for the poisoning. Once back in Russia in January, Navalny ended up shackled and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a trial that many believe is politically motivated, but other criminal investigations hang over his head as well.
According to Russian media, the opponent has been transferred in recent days to a prison 200 kilometers from Moscow, the IK-2 detention center in Pokrov, which is considered particularly harsh. Konstantin Kotov, who spent two years in that prison after being arrested during the 2019 anti-government protests, told the Moscow Times that he believed the authorities chose to imprison Navalny in Pokrov prison because they are effective in “psychologically isolating” people. Political prisoners.