Feb 23, 2024 - World

U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russia over Navalny's death

President Biden with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva in June 2021.

President Biden with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva in June 2021. Photo: Saul Loeb/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Friday announced a new package of sanctions targeting Russian officials and companies over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters: President Biden has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for Navalny's death in prison, and Navalny's allies have said they suspect high-level Russian authorities were involved.

Between the lines: While the sanctions are officially linked to Navalny's death, they're really targeted at Russia's war machine.

  • The roughly 500 individuals and entities listed for sanctions include firms involved in importing Iranian drones and in domestic weapons manufacturing. In a statement, Treasury said the sanctions would advance its "campaign to disrupt and degrade Russia's military-industrial base."
  • Despite heavy sanctions, Russia's defense sector is booming as the state piles upwards of 6% of GDP into the military.

The big picture: The Kremlin recently rejected calls from the European Union for an independent and impartial investigation into the suspicious circumstances of Navalny's death.

  • Russian authorities said Navalny, who had previously survived a Kremlin-linked assassination attempt, died after taking a walk around the Arctic penal colony where he was transferred in December. They claimed he fell unconscious after feeling sick and could not be resuscitated.
  • Russian authorities have told his representatives and family that the cause of his death is unknown and that they will have to wait weeks before they can claim Navalny's body for burial.
  • Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny's widow, has vowed continue his work and has said she believes her husband's body has not been released in order to cover up evidence of a murder ordered by the Kremlin.

Go deeper: How Navalny became Putin's biggest political foe

Go deeper