REVIEW - US Slaps Russia With First Round Of Biden-Era Sanctions

REVIEW - US Slaps Russia With First Round of Biden-Era Sanctions

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 03rd March, 2021) The United States imposed a flurry of sanctions on Russia's senior officials, security services, scientific institutions and the country over alleged mistreatment of opposition figure Alexey Navalny in a first major punitive action by the Biden administration.

The sanctions, which include visa bans, trade restrictions and asset freezes, were rolled out by departments of State, Commerce and Treasury in close coordination with the European Union. The bloc announced an identical response to the alleged poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Navalny.

"The US government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia's use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights has severe consequences. Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and contravenes international norms," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Tuesday.

Russia denies the allegations that its intelligence officers used the military-grade nerve agent Novichok against Navalny, who upon returning from a medical treatment in Germany was tried and sentenced to almost three years in prison for violating his probation on financial fraud charges and described by Moscow as unrelated to his political activism.

The State Department issued a determination that "the government of the Russian Federation has used a chemical weapon against its own nationals, in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention."

As a result, the Biden administration is terminating any assistance to Russia, except for urgent humanitarian needs, deny any credit or credit guarantees, stop any defense articles or services sales. Some of these measures, however, will be fully or partially mitigated by waivers and others exemptions.

The Treasury Department designated seven senior Russian officials for their alleged role in the Navalny case. The list includes Federal Security Service Director Aleksandr Bortnikov, Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, Kremlin Domestic Policy Directorate head Andrei Yarin, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, and Alexander Kalashnikov, whose Federal Penitentiary Service accused Navalny of violating the terms of parole and sought his arrest.

The Treasury Department action also targets Deputy Defense Ministers Aleksey Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov who are responsible for armaments and research activities, respectively.

The Treasury Department's designation requires that all their property in the United States be blocked and prohibits Americans from engaging in transactions with them. Any foreign person who knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for or on behalf of one of these individuals also risks being sanctioned, the Treasury Department warned.

The Commerce Department said that it is blacklisting for possible trade restrictions 14 entities in Russia, Germany and Switzerland for their alleged "proliferation activities in support of Russia's weapons of mass destruction programs and chemical weapons activities."

The interagency action also targets Russia's 27th Scientific Center, 33rd Scientific Research and Testing Institute, the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, and two security agencies - the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Directorate, including two its officers Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga.

The sanctions are imposed mainly under Executive Order 13382, which targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators as well as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The new action in some cases targets individuals, like Mishkin and Chepiga, and entities who were sanctioned as early as in 2018 over the alleged poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom - an allegation also rejected by Russia.

The White House said that more sanctions may be coming after it completes a comprehensive intelligence review of a whole range of Russia-attributed grievances - from election interference and Solar Winds cyberattacks to bounties in Afghanistan. The United States, however, seeks further cooperation with Russia wherever it serves its interests, a US official said.