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Biden administration prepares to impose sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning, SolarWinds hack

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Washington | February 24, 2021 4:13:19 AM IST
US President Joe Biden's administration is preparing to impose sanctions on Russia in the coming weeks over the poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the SolarWinds hack, CNN reported citing officials.

Discussions about the response to the devastating security breach of at least nine federal agencies and dozens of private businesses are still ongoing but could come within a matter of weeks, the US official said, noting that the package will likely include sanctions and a cyber component, as well as other options that make clear just how serious the Biden administration views Russia's actions more broadly, CNN reported.

The form the Navalny sanctions will take is being firmed up and they will likely be rolled out in coordination with the European Union, the two administration officials said.

The moves would be the first costs imposed on Russia by the Biden administration and would mark a clear departure from the strategy of the Trump administration, which failed to impose penalties over the poisoning and shied away from directly confronting Russia over its misdeeds.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell said Tuesday (local time) that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked to coordinate actions against Russia over the Navalny case. However, Blinken addressed the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday (local time).

Last week, National security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that the Biden administration's response to the hack will come soon. "We're not talking about months from now, but weeks from now, that the United States will be prepared to take the first steps in response to solar winds," Sullivan said.

Sullivan also said that "what the previous administration said was, quote, 'that it was likely of Russian origin.' We believe we can go further than that."

The Biden administration is not starting from scratch as they draft the options for Navalny sanctions. The State Department drew up options last year under the Trump administration but they were never imposed, a decision which mystified working level officials who developed them, one of the officials said.

On Monday (local time) Blinken participated virtually in EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and said he "welcomed the EU's decision to impose sanctions against Russia under the human rights sanctions regime in response to actions taken against [Navalny] and his supporters."

Biden administration officials point to ongoing intelligence reviews and their necessity of fully understanding the state of play before rolling out their entire Russia policy. The intelligence review includes the SolarWinds breach, Russian interference in the 2020 election, Russia's use of chemical weapons against Navalny, and the alleged bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan, CNN reported.

Earlier this month, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, "The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is working on this review very expeditiously," adding "I wouldn't expect this review to take any longer than necessary." (ANI)

 
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