One of the topics of the Geneva conversation between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin was the case of Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader imprisoned for his activities against the Russian regime.
In a press conference that followed after the meeting, one of the reporters asked President Biden if he and Putin talked about Navalny.
The U.S. President told reporters that he told Putin that Russia would experience “devastating consequences” if Navalny died in prison.
The Navalny case
Biden explained that he gave an expected response to Putin’s rationalizations about Navalny’s treatment.
The President emphasized the importance of trust and Russia’s ability to positively influence other nations as the main things to work on.
President Biden suggested that Navalny’s death would be against Russia’s interests, adding that such an event may prompt other countries to sever their ties with Russia.
Many commentators pointed out that Biden’s dealing with Russia seemed much more lenient than expected from the American President.
In the wake of these concerns, Republican reaction to Biden’s recent meeting with Putin does not appear unexpected.
A Republican pushback
Many Republican lawmakers expressed their dissatisfaction with the level of looseness of Biden’s approach.
This is the reason why they sent a joint letter to Biden on Wednesday, urging him to impose the second round of sanctions that would hold the Russian government responsible for its violation of human rights and international norms, as well as for its alleged use of chemical weapons against Navalny.
Republican lawmakers stated that the current U.S. administration had already expanded sanctions against Russia after it found out that Russian officials are responsible for the chemical weapon attack on Navalny.
The GOP members urged Biden to impose another group of sanctions against Putin.
They claimed that such a policy is required by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act (CBW Act) from 1991, and should be kept in place as long as the Russian government does not stop using the chemical weapons, pledge not to use such weapons in the future, and allow independent and internationally recognized infield inspections.
The letter was signed by Republican Representative Michael McCaul, from Texas, and James Risch, a Republican Senator from Idaho.
They argued that, since Putin’s regime did not satisfy the conditions specified by the CBW Act, the next round of sanctions against Russia should be imposed without delay.
The lawmakers, however, expressed their fear that the administration might avoid imposing the required sanctions as doing so would present a part of its broader strategy of not confronting Putin’s government.