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U.S. Preparing New Sanctions Against Russia Over Navalny Poisoning

A portrait of Aleksei Navalny by Swiss artists Julien Baro & Lud is displayed ahead of the June 16 summit in the Swiss city between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The United States is preparing new sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan has said.

"We are preparing another package of sanctions to apply in this case as well," Sullivan said on CNN on June 20.

Sullivan said the sanctions will come once the United States ensures that the right entities are targeted.

"When we do that, we will impose further sanctions with respect to chemical weapons," Sullivan said.

Navalny was arrested in January when he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had received treatment for a near-fatal poisoning in August with a Soviet-era nerve agent. Navalny has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin directly for the attack, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he told Putin during their summit last week that human rights will always be on the table and that he will continue to raise the issue, including the arrest of Navalny.

Biden said that he also warned Putin of the consequences if Navalny were to die in prison, telling reporters at a news conference that he "made it clear" that the consequences should Navalny die "would be devastating for Russia."

The Biden administration announced in March that it was placing sanctions on seven senior Russian officials, including Putin's deputy chief of staff, after a U.S. intelligence assessment concluded "with high confidence" that officers from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) were behind Navalny's poisoning.

The U.S. announcement came on the heels of European Union sanctions against four senior Russian officials.

Russia reacted angrily, saying the move was "absolutely unacceptable" and would have a destructive effect on the country's already bad relations with the United States and the European Union.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov was recalled later in March following a comment by Biden indicating he agreed that Putin is a "killer."

Relations between Washington and Moscow further deteriorated in April when the United States announced sanctions against dozens of Russian individuals and entities and expelled 10 Russian diplomats as it moved to hold the Kremlin accountable for election interference and a massive cyberattack on U.S. government and corporate computer networks.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan also returned to the United States for consultations.

Around the same time, Biden said the United States wanted a stable, predictable relationship with Russia and proposed the summit that took place last week in Geneva, Switzerland.

No major breakthroughs were announced after the summit, but the two leaders said they found some common ground on minor issues and announced their ambassadors would soon be returning to their posts.

Antonov departed Moscow on June 20 to return to Washington. No date has been announced for Sullivan's return.

Antonov is due to start work in Washington on June 21. He told RIA Novosti that he was optimistic and wanted to help build "equal and pragmatic" relations with the United States.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and RFE/RL's Russian Service
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