Biden blames 'Putin and his thugs' for Navalny's death

US President pays tribute to the opposition leader for standing up to Russian government

Joe Biden blames Vladimir Putin for death of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny

Joe Biden blames Vladimir Putin for death of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny
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US President Joe Biden on Friday said he was “not surprised, but outraged” by the reported death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and laid the blame squarely on President Vladimir Putin.

“He bravely stood up to the corruption, the violence and all the bad things the Putin government was doing,” Mr Biden said from the White House.

“Russian authorities are going to tell their own story. Make no mistake … Putin is responsible for Navalny's death.”

He added that the White House was working on getting further information about Mr Navalny's death.

Mr Navalny, 47, was a popular political rival and a critic of Mr Putin and his regime.

He fell ill after a walk at the Arctic prison colony where he was serving a 19-year term, the federal penitentiary service said.

“We don't know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did,” Mr Biden said.

The development is likely to worsen US relations with the Kremlin, which took a major hit after Russia's invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Alexei Navalny – in pictures

It also comes at a time when Mr Biden, who is running for re-election, has been urging Republican leaders in the US Congress to pass a bill that includes $60 billion in additional military funding for Ukraine.

“The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten. It's going to go down in the pages of history,” Mr Biden said.

But many of his Republican rivals are aligned with Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Last week, Mr Trump appeared to give tacit encouragement to Russia to invade any Nato country that was not meeting its commitment of spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence.

“This is an outrageous thing for a President to say,” Mr Biden said. “I can't fathom.

“Putin and the whole world should know if any adversary were to attack us, our Nato allies would back us and if Putin were to attack a Nato ally, the United States will defend every inch of Nato territory.”

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Article Five of the Nato treaty stipulates that an attack against one member nation is considered an attack on all.

During his time as president from 2017-2021, Mr Trump repeatedly complained about Nato and how many members were not paying the required 2 per cent. He said that many nations were taking advantage of US military power.

On Thursday, the White House said that Russia was developing a space-based anti-satellite capability that had not yet been deployed.

Mr Biden said the satellite poses no threat to Americans or anyone else in the world.

“There is no evidence that they have made a decision to go forward with doing anything in space either,” he said.

Updated: February 16, 2024, 8:57 PM