The United States is preparing to impose further sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of prominent opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.
“We are preparing another package of sanctions to apply in this case,” Sullivan said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to the treatment of the imprisoned opposition leader.
“We’ve shown all along the way that we are not going to pull our punches, whether it’s on Solar Winds, or election interference, or Navalny when it comes to responding to Russia’s harmful activities,” Sullivan told host Dana Bash.
The United States “will take a backseat to no one,” said Sullivan when questioned on the timing of the additional sanctions.
“It will come as soon as we have developed the packages to ensure that we are getting the right targets,” he added. “And when we do that, we will impose further sanctions with respect to chemical weapons.”
The announcement comes just days after President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland.
In March, the Biden administration sanctioned Russian officials, businesses, and other entities over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on Navalny in August last year. The nerve agent used in the incident, Novichok, is a banned chemical weapon.
The sanctions came after U.S. intelligence concluded with “high confidence” that Russia Federal Security Service officers poisoned Navalny with the nerve agent.
Following the June 16 summit between the two world leaders, Biden touched upon Navalny’s imprisonment, saying that if Navalny—who has long accused Putin of corruption—were to die in captivity, the United States would retaliate, and the consequences would be “devastating for Russia.”
But Navalny, Putin said, had ignored the law and knew that he would be arrested if he returned to Russia from Germany, where he received medical treatment from the alleged poisoning attempt.
Navalny was sentenced to more than two years in prison in February on old embezzlement charges.
Responding to news of additional sanctions, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said Sunday that it is “not a signal we all expected after the summit.”
“I don’t think it is possible to stabilize and normalize relations between countries by means of sanctions,” said Antonov, according to Russian news agency TASS. “The current task is to normalize dialogue. First of all, we need to restore wrecked dialogue mechanisms.”
He added: “It is sad that our American colleague are opting for a path that will not lead us to a positive result our president were oriented to.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned of a response from Russia in a statement on Telegram.
“The illegal actions of the United States have always been followed by a legitimate response from us,” Zakharova said. “It is strange that some people in Washington like to go around in circles and be confronted by the same obstacles endlessly.”