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Photo: Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday joined other world governments to condemn the apparent poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The state of play: The German government announced that the poisoning was conducted with Novichok, a chemical typically associated with Russian security services.

  • Nalvany remains comatose at a Berlin hospital two weeks after falling ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow.
  • For years, he's been one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken opponents. Attacks on anti-Kremlin activists, like 2018's Salisbury Novichok attack in the U.K., have been a hallmark of Putin's leadership. Russia has claimed no wrongdoing in such incidents.

What they're saying: White House National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot said Wednesday, "The United States is deeply troubled by the results released today. Alexei Navalny’s poisoning is completely reprehensible."

  • "We will work with allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable, wherever the evidence leads, and restrict funds for their malign activities."
  • "The Russian people have a right to express their views peacefully without fear of retribution of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents."

The big picture: Other world leaders simultaneously spoke out against the attack on Navalny.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, "We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the U.K. The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny — we will work with international partners to ensure justice is done."
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said efforts to "silence" Navalny are "a crime against the basic values and basic rights we stand for. ... Of course it raises severe questions that only the Russian government can answer and will have to answer."
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, "This is a despicable and cowardly act — once again. Perpetrators need to be brought to justice."
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted, "I utterly condemn the use of a military-grade nerve agent, which makes it even more urgent that Russia conducts full & transparent investigation."

Go deeper

Nov 23, 2020 - World

NZ's Jacinda Ardern becomes the latest world leader to congratulate Biden

Combination images of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: NZ Prime Minister's Office/Instagram/Joe Raedle/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has become the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden in a phone call, but Russian President Vladimir Putin is still refusing to acknowledge the U.S. election win.

Driving the news: Biden's transition team said in a statement late Sunday he "expressed his intent to strengthen the U.S.-New Zealand partnership" and looked forward to working closely on challenges including containing COVID-19, tackling climate change and "reinforcing multilateralism."

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.