Biden pledged ‘consequences’ for Putin if Alexei Navalny dies in prison
Top congressional Republicans in the House and Senate called on President Biden Wednesday to instate a legally mandated second round of sanctions on Russia for the use of chemical weapons against opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The letter from House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member James Risch (R-ID) coincided with Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
The lawmakers reminded Biden that under U.S. law, he is required to submit to Congress a written assurance that Russia is no longer using chemical weapons against its own nationals and will not do so in the future by agreeing to inspections – or instead impose a second round of sanctions.
Biden had three months to provide a letter to Congress or implement sanctions after Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed in early March that Navalny was targeted with a chemical weapon.
On Wednesday, Biden addressed a litany of issues with Putin ranging from cybercrimes to human rights violations.
“I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else. It’s for the American people,” Biden told reporters following the summit. “I made it clear to President Putin I will continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights because that’s what we are. That’s who we are.”
Biden said he warned Putin that there would be “consequences” if Navalny died in prison.
“I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia,” Biden said.
He continued, “What do you think happens when he’s saying it’s not about hurting Navalny, all the stuff he says to rationalize the treatment of Navalny, and then he dies in prison?”
Biden did not go into detail as to what consequences Russia could expect.
Navalny is believed to have been poisoned by Russian officials on a flight to Moscow last year before falling into a coma. He was later imprisoned for violating his probation after he was evacuated to Germany for medical attention.
His health has reportedly deteriorated during his incarceration.
“Putin won’t takem [seriously] President Biden’s threat of ‘devastating consequences’ if Navalny dies . . . when he’s so far refused to implement the mandatory second round of sanctions for Navalny’s poisoning,” McCaul told Fox News. “By forgoing these sanctions, the Biden Administration is sending a dangerous signal to the Kremlin that it’s not serious about holding Putin accountable. That just encourages more bad behavior.”
Putin defended his treatment of Navalny Wednesday, telling reporters “he deliberately wanted to be arrested.”
The White House and Risch did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.