Republican Senator Ron Johnson on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and sanctions against the President of the Russian Federation and his entourage
Ron Johnson, Senator from the Republican Party of Wisconsin, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations and the head of the Subcommittee on European Affairs and Regional Security Cooperation, does not doubt the conclusions of German doctors, according to which Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent group “Novichok”.
“Firstly, I would regard this (the poisoning of Alexei Navalny) as a daring attack. As far as the world knows, there is actually only one country that has access to this nerve agent – and that is Russia, ”Ron Johnson said in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service. – I am absolutely confident in the German doctors and German investigators who are studying the incident. They convincingly proved that, in their opinion, we are dealing with this nerve agent (“Novice”). Therefore, I think that we need to proceed from this assumption “.
In a statement this week, G7 foreign ministers, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noted that “clinical and toxicological studies by German medical experts and a specialized laboratory of the German armed forces have determined that Navalny was the victim of a chemical attack. nerve-paralytic action of the Novichok group – a substance developed in Russia ”. The US secretary of state also said there was “significant likelihood” that the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was commissioned by senior Russian officials. The US President noted last week that the US does not yet have proof of what happened to Alexei Navalny.
Russia denies the very fact of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, since, according to Russian doctors, no poisonous substances were found in his blood. Moscow also denies the possible use of Novichok, noting that the Russian authorities have made a request to Germany to provide evidence of these allegations. The Kremlin calls the statements of Western countries about the responsibility of Russia “unfounded accusations” and escalating the situation to create sanctions sentiment.
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Senator Ron Johnson believes that in response to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, Germany should stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and sanctions should be imposed on Vladimir Putin and his entourage, including their foreign assets.
“One thing we have to do is stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and I called on Germany to do this. Now is not the time to reward Russia with economic benefits, the senator says, noting that the United States, for its part, should impose sanctions on the Russian president and his inner circle. – The sanctions should be aimed at Putin and his inner circle to make them pay the price. I don’t think we have done an adequate job of investigating where Putin and his associates are hiding their ill-gotten gains around the world. I think that further investigation and disclosure of this issue to the Russians would also be an appropriate response. But sanctions against these people themselves will probably be the best answer. “.
A similar initiative – the submission to the US Congress of a report by the director of the US National Intelligence Agency on the personal fortune and assets of the Russian president – is laid down in the draft law “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, DASKA.” The Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate at the end of 2019 approved this bill, but it is still unclear when the document may be put to a vote in the Senate. If the bill is approved, it will be sent to the president for signing, who has the right to veto it. Recall that a number of Russian officials and representatives of big business are already under US sanctions.
With regard to whether one can expect bipartisan support in relation to further sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and himself, Senator Johnson noted that “in recent years, sanctions against Russia have found full support in Congress” due to Moscow’s aggressive actions.
“Unfortunately, Putin has taken a very destructive path in the past few years. And this does not contribute to the long-term interests of Russia and Russians, notes the senator from the Republican Party. – I wish we could go back to the time when Russia could be a friendly competitor. I do not want to see the enemy in Russia, which it is at present, but Putin chose this path. “.
“The sanctions can be lifted quickly if Putin changes his behavior,” adds Senator Johnson. “We are not against economic competition, but we are against invasion of neighboring countries and loss of freedom, and, of course, against violations of chemical weapons treaties.”.
Invasion from neighboring countries, poisoning of opponents and political assassinations, says the US lawmaker, are the methods of the Russian president and his entourage to maintain their power. Senator Johnson pays tribute to the courage of opposition leaders, such as Alexei Navalny today and Boris Nemtsov in the past, who are trying to resist the dictatorial regime: “I deeply respect this political courage. But it is precisely this kind of political courage that is required not only from a number of leaders, but also from the entire population if people want to get rid of dictatorships. “.
Senator Johnson adheres to the same approach when speaking about the situation in Belarus. The United States must openly support those who strive for democracy and continue to impose economic sanctions on those who obstruct free elections. However, first of all, the civil societies of non-free countries themselves must fight for internal political changes, the American senator emphasizes..
Journalist «Voices of America». Prior to that, she worked for international non-governmental organizations in Washington DC and London, in the Russian-language version of the Estonian daily newspaper “Postimees” and as a spokesman for the Estonian Interior Ministry. Interests – international relations, politics, economics