Leaders around the world, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have strongly condemned the crackdown and demanded answers from the Russian government. However, US President Donald Trump – who has been widely criticized for his soft-spoken approach to Russia – has remained virtually silent on Navalny’s poisoning, and the US response on Wednesday came from a spokesman for the National Security Council.
This is Trump’s latest case of not speaking out and seeking answers from the Kremlin on issues ranging from election interference to possible generosity to US troops in Afghanistan.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Merkel described Navalny as “a victim of a crime”, saying: “They wanted to silence him, and I condemn him in the strongest possible terms, also on behalf of the entire federal government.”
“There are very serious questions now that only the Russian government can and must answer,” Merkel said. “Alexey Navalny’s fate has received a lot of attention worldwide. People will be waiting for an answer.”
Johnson said “the Russian government must now explain what happened” in Navalie.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peshkov said on Wednesday that the Kremlin had not received any information from Germany that Navalny had been poisoned with Novitsok, according to Russia’s state-run news agency Tas.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the results announced today. Alexei Navalny’s poisoning is highly reprehensible. Russia has used the nerve agent Novichok in the past,” Ullyot said. “We will work with the allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable for the evidence, and to reduce the money for their malicious activities.”
“The Russian people have the right to express their views peacefully without fear of retaliation of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents,” he told tweets.
Trump’s only public comments on the matter came shortly after Navalny was taken to hospital.
“We have not seen it yet. We are looking into it. And Mike is going to tell me soon,” Trump said when asked about the issue on August 20.
On Wednesday, former National Security Adviser John Bolton urged the president to speak.
However, in his book, Bolton claimed that Trump had delayed these sanctions until his summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in July 2018.
After their announcement, Bolton said, Trump wanted to recall them and thought “they were very tough on Putin.”
CNN’s Stephanie Halasz, Bryony Jones and Gianluca Mezzofiore contributed to this report.