Biden Considering New Russia Sanctions After Navalny Death


U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday he is “considering additional sanctions” against Moscow following the death of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

“We already have sanctions,” Biden told reporters at the White House, but the United States is looking at others. He had already directly blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and his “thugs” for Navalny’s death last week.

Navalny’s death comes as Biden has struggled to push a $95 billion package of international security assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan through Congress over the opposition of numerous Republican lawmakers.

With bipartisan support, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the spending package, but Speaker Mike Johnson, leader of the narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives, has balked at sending the measure to the House floor for a vote, in part because former President Donald Trump opposes the new aid.

Johnson has complained that the foreign assistance package contains no new controls to block the influx of tens of thousands of illegal migrants crossing from Mexico into the United States, although Senate Republicans, at the behest of Trump, blocked consideration of a bipartisan proposal to tighten migration restrictions.

Johnson has been demanding a meeting with Biden on the issue, and the president, who strongly favors more Ukraine aid, said Monday he would be willing to meet with the House speaker.

At the same time, Biden swiped at Republican lawmakers for not continuing to fund Ukraine’s two-year fight to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

“The way they’re walking away from the threat of Russia. The way they’re walking away from NATO. The way they’re walking away from meeting our obligations … I’ve never seen anything like it,” Biden said.

The fall of the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka to Russian forces has intensified U.S. reactions from Democrats and Republicans alike on whether $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine that is part of the broader assistance package could allow Kyiv to push back Russian advances and steal Moscow’s momentum.

A White House statement said Biden tied the loss of the stronghold of Avdiivka to the stalled U.S. aid for Ukraine in a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday.

Despite the overwhelming support of the package by most Democrats and almost half the congressional Republicans, Johnson insists he won’t be “rushed” into approving the foreign aid package.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Democratic Senator Michael Bennet advocated for the aid saying, “just get it over there” to the House for approval.

“They’ve just had their first defeat, the Ukrainians, since last May, partly as a result of the fact that they are outgunned 10 to 1 by the Russians. We can help solve that problem for them, and we should,” Bennet said.

But Senator J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican and ally of Trump, said, “The problem in Ukraine … is that there’s no clear end point” and that the U.S. doesn’t make enough weapons to support wars in eastern Europe, the Middle East and “potentially a contingency in East Asia.”

If the package goes through, “that is not going to fundamentally change the reality on the battlefield,” Vance argued, pointing out that America’s manufacturing capacity has its limits.

“Can we send the level of weaponry we’ve sent for the last 18 months?” he asked. “We simply cannot. No matter how many checks the U.S. Congress writes, we are limited there.”

In an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, former Republican Representative Liz Cheney said Congress should pass the bipartisan bill Ukrainians need so urgently and added that Johnson has the power to make that happen.

“If he wanted to, today, announce he is going to call the House of Representatives back into session, he could put the bill that has already passed the Senate onto the floor of the House for a vote tomorrow, to be on Joe Biden’s desk by tomorrow night, and the aid to be flown to Ukraine,” she said.

At a global security conference in Munich on Saturday, Zelenskyy urged allies to plug a shortage of weapons and expressed hope that the U.S. Congress would make a “wise decision” in approving the delayed large aid package for Ukraine.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged support for Ukraine’s reconstruction at a conference Monday in Tokyo that brought together several hundred government and business leaders from the two countries.

“The war in Ukraine is still going on at this very moment, and the situation is not easy,” Kishida said. “The promotion of economic reconstruction, however, is not only an investment for the future of Ukraine but also investing in Japan and the whole globe.”

Kishida also pledged to relax visa controls and announced the Japan External Trade Organization would open an office Kyiv.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the two countries signed more than 50 cooperation agreements, including “an intergovernmental convention on the avoidance of double taxation, which is extremely important for Japanese companies planning new projects in Ukraine.”

“By combining our powers … we can change this challenge into an opportunity for future growth and prosperity,” Shmyhal said on the X social media platform. “Japan’s experiences in reconstruction [from World War II] and its economic miracle provide us with inspiration.”

Japan has pledged more than $10 billion in aid for Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion two years ago. Most of that aid has been financial and humanitarian.

The World Bank, European Union and United Nations estimated in a report last week that Ukraine will need $486 billion for reconstruction efforts during the next decade.

As the Ukrainian and Japanese delegations met Monday, Ukraine’s air force reported new Russian aerial attacks, including four drones that Ukraine’s air defenses shot down.

The Ukrainian air force said the drones were intercepted over the Kharkiv region. There were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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