All Eyes On Joe Biden After He Threatened Putin With ‘Devastating’ Consequences Over Navalny’s Death

by Jessica

The death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Russian prison is putting increased scrutiny on U.S. President Joe Biden, who had earlier warned of “devastating consequences” for Vladimir Putin should Navalny die behind bars.

Navalny, Putin’s most prominent critic, died on Friday, February 16, 2024, at age 47 while serving a prison sentence widely seen as politically motivated.

His death comes after Biden specifically told Putin last June that the Russian leader would face consequences if Navalny were to die in custody.

“I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia,” Biden said following his Geneva summit with Putin last summer, as reported by The Guardian.

Though Biden did not elaborate at the time on what those consequences would be, the stakes are significantly higher now given Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine.

The question many in Washington are asking is how Biden will follow through on his threat now that Navalny has died under suspicious circumstances in Russian custody.

The White House called Navalny’s death “disturbing” but did not immediately announce any retaliatory measures against Russia.

Biden warned Putin that Navalny’s death would erode international “trust” in Russia’s ability to “influence other nations in a positive way.”

That trust has already been shredded due to the invasion of Ukraine, making it unclear what additional actions Biden could take to penalize Moscow.

Navalny had long been a thorn in Putin’s side, leading mass protests against the Russian leader’s autocratic rule.

His sudden illness in 2020 led to accusations that Putin poisoned Navalny, which the Kremlin denied. Navalny was arrested upon returning to Moscow in 2021 and slapped with parole violations that critics say were fabricated.

The dissident leader was subsequently convicted on charges of fraud and contempt of court, for which he was serving a 2.5-year sentence in a penal colony known for its harsh conditions. The circumstances around his abrupt death remain murky.

Biden now faces growing calls to turn his strong rhetoric against Putin into concrete action, especially from Russia hawks in Congress.

But with sanctions already levied and relations at a post-Cold War low, it is unclear if Navalny’s death will significantly shift the administration’s calculus.

The president’s critics claim he has been too soft on Russia despite the Ukraine invasion, refusing to take more aggressive measures like banning Russian oil imports or establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

For Biden, Navalny’s death will be one more test of his resolve to stand up to Putin as the bloody Ukraine conflict continues.

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