The Biden government is preparing to impose sanctions on Russia for Navalny poisoning and SolarWinds hack

Discussions about the response to the devastating security breach by at least nine federal agencies and dozens of private companies are still ongoing, but can take place in a matter of weeks, the U.S. official said, noting that the package is likely to include sanctions and a component. cybernetics, as well as other options that make clear how serious the Biden government sees Russia’s actions more broadly.

The form that Navalny sanctions will take is being signed and is likely to be implemented in coordination with the European Union, the two government officials said.

The measures would be the first costs imposed on Russia by the Biden government and would mark a clear departure from the Trump administration’s strategy, which did not impose penalties for poisoning and avoided directly confronting Russia for its crimes.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked to coordinate actions against Russia in the Navalny case. Blinken addressed the EU Council on Foreign Relations on Monday.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN last week that the Biden government’s response to the hack will come soon. “We are not talking about months from now, but weeks from now, when the United States will be prepared to take its first steps in response to solar winds,” said Sullivan.

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

The Biden government is not starting from scratch when writing options for sanctions on Navalny. The State Department drafted options last year under the Trump administration, but they were never enforced, a decision that confused employees at the level of work that developed them, one of the employees explained.

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

The Trump administration’s inaction put the United States out of step with its European allies with regard to Navalny’s poisoning. EU countries implemented sanctions on Navalny shortly after his poisoning last year, but the United States did not.

Blinken virtually participated in the EU’s Foreign Relations Council (FAC) on Monday and said he “welcomed the EU’s decision to impose sanctions against Russia under the human rights sanctions regime in response to actions taken against [Navalny] and their supporters. “

Biden government officials point to ongoing intelligence analysis and its need to fully understand the situation before implementing its entire policy towards Russia. The intelligence analysis includes the violation of SolarWinds, Russian interference in the 2020 elections, Russia’s use of chemical weapons against Navalny and the alleged rewards for American soldiers in Afghanistan.

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

Government officials have promised that the intelligence review will be carried out as expeditiously as possible.

“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is working on this review very quickly,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price earlier this month. “I didn’t expect this review to take any longer than necessary.”

Jennifer Hansler of CNN contributed to this report.