WASHINGTON – White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday the Biden government warned the Russian government not to let jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny die in custody.
“We have told the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny in their care is their responsibility and that they will be held accountable by the international community,” Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union program.
“We have announced that there will be consequences if Mr Navalny dies,” he added.
Navalny flew to Russia from Berlin earlier this year after recovering for nearly six months from nerve agent poisoning that occurred last August. He was arrested at passport control and later sentenced to more than two years in prison.
Last month, the United States sanctioned seven members of the Russian government for alleged poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Navalny. The sanctions were the first to be directed against Moscow under Biden’s leadership. The Trump administration has taken no action against Russia because of the situation in Navalny.
State Secretary Antony Blinken wrote in a separate statement that the sanctions would send “a clear signal” to Russia that the use of chemical weapons and human rights abuses are having grave consequences.
“Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and violates international standards,” wrote Blinken.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied having played a role in Navalny’s poisoning.
A spokesman for Navalny said the Russian opposition leader’s health had deteriorated since his detention. Navalny went on a hunger strike to force his prison guards to access outside medical care to relieve back pain and leg pain. A Navalny lawyer said he had two spinal hernias, AP reported.
Continue reading: The US was concerned about the deteriorating health of incarcerated Kremlin critic Navalny
The Russian authorities have previously stated that they have offered Navalny adequate medical care but continue to refuse it. The prison has refused to allow a doctor, chosen by Navalny, from outside the facility to carry out his treatment.
On Saturday, doctor Yaroslav Aschikhmin said the test results he received from Navalny’s family show that the detained critic has elevated potassium levels that can trigger cardiac arrest. Navalny also has elevated creatinine levels which indicate possible kidney failure.
“Our patient could die at any moment,” said Ashikhmin in a Facebook post.
In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, the Russian Ambassador to Britain accused Navalny of dramatizing his condition to attract attention.
“Of course he mustn’t die in prison, but I can say that Mr. Navalny is acting absolutely like a hooligan,” said Andrei Kelin. “His goal for all of this is to get him noticed, including by saying that his left hand is sick today and his leg is sick tomorrow and all that stuff, so the journalists pay attention.”
“Navalny was treated in the hospital, which is not far from where he is serving his sentence, and I understand he is no longer complaining,” added Kelin.
Last week, the Biden administration hit Russia with a string of US sanctions for human rights abuses, widespread cyberattacks and attempts to influence the US elections.
In a speech on Thursday, Biden said he was ready to take further action against Moscow.
“If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I am ready to take further action to respond. It is my responsibility as President of the United States to do so,” said White House Biden.
“I was aware to President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do this, I chose to be proportionate,” said Biden of the measures, adding that he did not ” wanted to initiate an escalation cycle and. ” Conflict with Russia. “
Continue reading: The West is waiting for Putin’s next move as tensions between Russia and Ukraine mount
Biden also said that in a phone conversation with Putin, he suggested that the two meet in person in Europe this summer to discuss a number of pressing issues.
Sullivan told CNN that the Biden-Putin summit would be discussed but would not provide additional details.
“There’s no summit on the books right now, it’s something we’re talking about. Obviously, this summit would have to happen under the right circumstances in a way that could actually advance the relationship,” Sullivan said.