National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that further sanctions targeting Russia over its poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny were coming. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
June 20 (UPI) -- Days after President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met for a highly anticipated summit in Europe, a senior White House official said Sunday that the Biden administration was putting together a second round of sanctions to punish the Kremlin over its poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor, said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that they have sanctioned Russia over last summer's poisoning of Navalny and they will do so again.
"It will come as soon as soon as we have developed the packages to ensure that we are getting the right targets, and when we do that, we will impose further sanctions with respect to chemical weapons," he said.
The United States has sanctioned Russia over its poisoning of Navalny, including in early March under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Warfare Elimination Act requiring a second round of sanctions be imposed within three months, a deadline that elapsed in early June ahead of a summit held Wednesday between Biden in Putin.
Last August while on a flight en route from Tomsk to Moscow, Navalny fell ill, forcing the plane to land. He was later sent to Germany where doctors said he had been poisoned with a nerve agent. Following a five-month stay in the European nation, the Kremlin critic was arrested on returning to Russia Jan. 17 on charges of violating the terms of a previous suspended sentence.
Ever since, he has been jailed in a penal colony. The Kremlin has denied responsibility for poisoning Navalny.
Ahead of the summit, Democratic Rep. Bob Menendez urged the Biden administration in a floor speech to impose the second mandated round of sanctions, stating he has "every expectation President Biden will be more assertive with Putin than his predecessor."
On the day of the summit, ranking Republican members of both the House and Senate foreign affairs committees Rep. Michael McCaul and Sen. James Risch sent Biden a letter that they are "concerned" a delay to imposing the sanctions seemed to be about avoiding confrontation ahead of the meeting.
"[T]he delay of the imposition of these sanctions run directly counter to your administration's stated goal of using the summit with President Putin to defend our democratic values in the face of Putin's authoritarian rule," they said.
During a press conference following the summit, Biden told reporters that he pressed Putin on human rights, including its treatment of Navalyn.
"I made it clear to [Putin] the consequences would be devastating for Russia" If Navalny died under state's care, he said.
The Sunday interview was held on the same day Russia said its ambassador to the Untied States, Anatoly Antonov, had returned to his post in Washington, D.C. Russia had previously ordered his recall in March amid escalating tensions between the two countries.
It was announced following the two summits that the presidents had agreed to return their ambassadors to their duties.