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Biden blames Putin for Navalny's death, urges House to pass Ukraine funding

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President Biden on Friday blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and urged House Republicans to pass aid for Ukraine in the wake of the incident.

“Reports of his death, if they’re true, and I have no reasons to believe they’re not — Russian authorities are going to tell their own story,” Biden said in remarks from the White House.

“But make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Putin is responsible. What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality. No one should be fooled,” he continued.

The president said the U.S. does not know exactly what happened to Navalny, but his death “was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

The Russian Federal Prison Service said early Friday that Navalny felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness. An ambulance arrived, and its crew tried to rehabilitate him but was unsuccessful, it added.

Navalny was serving a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism, and in December was moved from a different prison to the highest-security level facility in the country near the Arctic Circle. The “special regime” penal colony prison in the town of Kharp, which is about 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow, is in a remote area known for its severe winters.

Navalny has been imprisoned since January 2021, when he returned to Russia after recovering from a poisoning that he blamed on Putin, who has denied trying to kill Navalny with a nerve agent.

Biden had warned after a 2021 meeting with Putin in Geneva that there would be “devastating” consequences if Navalny died.

He said Friday that Russia has faced significant consequences in the nearly three years since, pointing to sanctions and the deaths of thousands of soldiers in its invasion of Ukraine.

“We’re contemplating what else can be done,” he said.

The president used his remarks to call on House Republicans to pass billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine in its war against Russian forces, saying Navalny’s death “reminds us of the stakes of this moment.”

“We have to provide the funding so Ukraine can keep defending itself against Putin’s vicious onslaughts and war crimes,” Biden said.

“History is watching the House of Representatives,” Biden added. “The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.”

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a national security supplemental funding package that included money for Ukraine, Israel and Indo-Pacific allies. But Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has indicated he will not bring the legislation up for a vote in the House because it does not contain border security provisions demanded by his conference.

Johnson earlier this month rejected a bipartisan border security proposal from the Senate.


Source: The Hill

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