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Biden blames Putin for Navalny's death

President Biden speaks about the death of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Feb. 16.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden speaks about the death of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Feb. 16.

President Biden put the blame for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's deathsquarely on the shoulders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said he hoped the tragedy spurs the U.S. Congress to give Ukraine more military aid to fight Moscow.

Speaking at the White House, Biden said he was "both not surprised and outraged" by the news of Navalny's death.

Biden called Navalny a powerful voice for the truth. He praised the opposition leader for his courage standing up to the Kremlin and for fighting against corruption in his country.

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

Biden said his administration was looking at a range of options to respond to Navalny's death, but he did not provide any details.

He said the tragedy underscores the stakes for Congress, where a new package of aid for Ukraine has run into roadblocks. He reprimanded House Republicans who have held up the aid and said he hoped Navalny's death encouraged them to take action.

"I hope to God it helps," he said.

He said the "clock is ticking," and saved particular condemnation for former President Donald Trump — his likely opponent in the presidential election — for recently saying that he would not defend NATO allies who failed to spend enough on defense.

"Let me be clear. This is an outrageous thing for a president to say," Biden said. "I can't fathom — can't fathom — from Truman on, they're rolling over in their graves hearing this. As long as I'm president, America stands by our sacred commitment to our NATO allies as they have stood by their commitments to us repeatedly."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
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