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Biden administration prepares to impose sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning and SolarWinds hack

Discussions on the response to the devastating security breach at at least nine federal agencies and dozens of private companies are still ongoing, but may come within a few weeks, the U.S. official said, noting that the package is likely to include sanctions and a cyber component, as well as other options , which clearly shows how serious the Biden administration sees Russia’s actions more broadly.

The form of Navalny sanctions will be strengthened and will likely be rolled out in coordination with the European Union, the two officials said.

The moves would be the first costs imposed by the Biden administration on Russia, and would mark a clear departure from the Trump administration̵

7;s strategy of not imposing sanctions on the poisoning and shying away from directly confronting Russia over its misdeeds.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Antony Blinken had asked to coordinate actions against Russia in connection with the Navalny case. Blinken spoke to the EU Foreign Council on Monday.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN last week that the Biden administration’s response to the hack is coming soon. “We are not talking about months from now, but about weeks from now that the United States will be ready to take the first steps in response to solar winds,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also said that ‘what the previous administration said was the quote,’ that it was probably of Russian origin. ‘We believe we can go beyond that. “

The Biden administration does not start from scratch as they devise the possibilities for Navalny sanctions. The State Department worked out opportunities last year under the Trump administration, but they were never imposed, a decision that mystified labor-level officials who developed them, one of the officials explained.

Politico first reported that preparations are underway for Navalny sanctions, and the Washington Post first reported on the SolarWinds discussions.
Career diplomats were frustrated throughout the Trump administration over passivity when it came to Russia. They have privately welcomed the direct nature of President Joe Biden’s first phone call with Putin, in which he confronted Putin about Russia’s malicious activities, which former President Donald Trump had often avoided, three US diplomats told CNN.

The inaction of the Trump administration put the United States out of step with its European allies when it comes to the poisoning of Navalny. EU nations carried out Navalny sanctions shortly after his poisoning last year, but the United States did not.

Blinken largely attended yesterday’s EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on Monday and said he “welcomed the EU decision to impose sanctions on Russia under the human rights sanctions system in response to actions against [Navalny] and his followers. “

Alexey Navalny remains in jail as the court dismisses his appeal.  He then faces fines of $ 11,500 in defamation proceedings

Biden administration officials point to ongoing intelligence audits and their need to fully understand the status of the game before rolling out their entire Russia policy. The intelligence analysis includes the violation of SolarWinds, Russian interference in the 2020 election, Russia’s use of chemical weapons against Navalny and the alleged rewards for US troops in Afghanistan.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Administration officials have promised that the intelligence audit will move as quickly as possible.

“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is working very fast on this review,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said earlier this month. “I would not expect this review to take longer than necessary.”

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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