Biden Once Threatened ‘Devastating Consequences’ for Russia if Alexei Navalny Died in Prison

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AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov

The world was shaken when the death of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was announced on Friday. After having fought a long, hard, battle against the country’s authoritarian government, his death is a major blow to the fight for freedom worldwide.

The question now is, what happens next?

President Joe Biden once told Russian President Vladimir Putin that there would be consequences if Navalny perished in prison. Since this unfortunate scenario has now materialized, it is unclear how the White House will respond.

While speaking at a 2021 Geneva summit with Putin, Biden said he “made it clear to [Putin] that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia.”

Shortly after Navalny’s death was announced, the president lashed out at Putin, blaming him for the tragedy and criticizing him for targeting civilians.

So far, it is not clear exactly how Navalny died. But his death allegedly came after he reported feeling unwell after taking a walk.

Regardless of the nature of Navalny’s demise, the fact still remains that Putin is responsible either for the negligence or deliberate action that led to his death. The question is: Will Biden make good on his threat made in 2021?

Currently, the world is looking to see how the Biden administration will respond and this situation puts the White House in a precarious position. Failing to take action could be seen as a sign of weakness which could encourage Putin and other authoritarian regimes to disregard human rights with impunity. However, even taking action could bring with it a set of complexities.

If the administration decides to move against the Kremlin, possible measures could include a more aggressive round of sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy or individuals close to Putin. The president could also increase support for NATO and aid for Ukraine, which could be the most likely response to Navalny’s death. Indeed, at least one left-wing columnist has already exploited the dissident’s death to shame people into supporting more aid to Ukraine.

Such measures might send a tougher message to Russia, but it could also further strain relations between Washington and Moscow. But, the administration could decide that sending a message is worth the potential ramifications.

Either way, the passing of Alexei Navalny is a watershed moment in the global fight against tyranny. Biden’s next move will be scrutinized. Regardless of the choices the administration makes, the implications will be felt for years to come.

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