White House may impose sanctions to punish Russia for the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
President Joe Biden's decision to impose sanctions for Navalny's poisoning reflects a harder stance than taken by his predecessor, Donald Trump, who let the incident last August pass without specific punitive U.S. action.
Mr. Navalny fell ill on a flight in Siberia in August and was airlifted to Germany, where doctors concluded he had been poisoned with a nerve agent. The Kremlin has denied any role in his illness and said it had seen no proof he was poisoned.
The sources said on Monday on condition of anonymity that the United States was expected to act under two executive orders: 13661, which was issued after Russia's invasion of Crimea but provides broad authority to target Russian officials, and 13382, issued in 2005 to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Both orders let the United States freeze the U.S. assets of those targeted and effectively bar U.S. companies and individuals from dealing with them.
The sources said the Biden administration also planned to act under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which provides a menu of punitive measures.
Some individuals would be targeted in the sanctions to be announced as early as Tuesday, but declined to name them or say what other sanctions may be imposed.
They added, however, that Washington would maintain waivers allowing foreign aid and certain export licenses for Russia.
Among the most probable targets of the sanctions will be Russia's Attorney General and the Commander-in-Chief of National Guard.
A third source said the U.S. action may be coordinated with sanctions the European Union could apply as soon as Tuesday.
EU foreign ministers agreed on Feb. 22 to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin in a mainly symbolic response to Navalny's jailing. The EU was expected to formally approve those in early March.
Biden called recent arrest of Navalny "politically motivated"
Many Western countries say Mr. Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent, but the Kremlin has denied any role in his illness and has said it has seen no proof that he was poisoned.
After his treatment in Germany, Mr. Navalny returned to Russia in January. He was arrested and later sentenced to more than 2-1/2 years in jail for parole violations that he said were trumped up.
Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden last month called the jailing of Navalny ‘politically motivated’ and called for his release.