The United States’ national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday that Washington is preparing fresh sanctions against Moscow over the case of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a move that Russia vowed to meet with their own “logical responses”.
“We have sanctioned Russia for the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. We rallied European allies in a joint effort to impose costs on Russia for the use of a chemical agent against one of their citizens on Russian soil,” Sullivan said.
“We are preparing another package of sanctions to apply in this case as well. We’ve shown along the way we’re not going to pull our punches,” he said.
The US imposed sanctions in March on Russian individuals and entities, including the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, after accusing it of poisoning Navalny. Russia has repeatedly denied such accusations, saying the Navalny case is a purely domestic affair and foreign intervention is not allowed.
The US intelligence community said officers of the FSB used a nerve agent known as Novichok to poison Navalny on Aug 20, 2020.
Sullivan’s comments came days after US President Joe Biden met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, the first meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office in January.
Separately, the US said it may target Russian companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 project as well. Russia state news agency Tass said the US imposed sanctions against 13 ships and three Russian organizations taking part in the project in May.
Sullivan said the Biden administration will continue to impose restrictions against Russian organizations participating in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline every 90 days.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to the possible sanctions, saying Russia has always responded logically to the illegal activities of the US.
“We hear reports from Washington that another package of sanctions is being prepared. Local officials link Nord Stream 2 to Navalny. The US’ illegal activities have always been followed by our logical responses. It is strange that some in Washington are so fond of obstacle racing on a merry-go-round,” she wrote on her Telegram channel.
She stressed the US tends to impose anti-Russian sanctions in a bid to resolve problems caused by its own uncompetitiveness.
Sullivan made the remarks amid the return of Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to Washington on Sunday.
The diplomat had earlier returned to Moscow for consultations on ways to mend Russia-US ties, and stayed in Moscow for three months. Antonov flew on a regular Aeroflot flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Sunday morning.