Russian authorities target ally of Kremlin foe Navalny before jail appeal


Police arrested Navalny at a Moscow airport after he returned to Russian Federation on January 17 from Germany, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal poisoning with a nerve toxin.

"Law enforcement agencies are doing their job", he said in a telephone call with reporters.

"So all of that, as the President and the White House have indicated, are under review".

William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that extending New START was a "low-hanging fruit" - it was due to expire within days and Trump's efforts to expand the treaty to China made no headway. After taking office last week, Biden proposed extending the treaty for five years, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer.

The Chinese immediately rejected the idea, and noted that Beijing had fewer than 300 deployed nuclear weapons.

It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and Russian Federation to 1,550 each as well as the number of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that deliver them. Biden told Putin on the phone call, first reported by The Associated Press, that the U.S. would defend itself and take action, which could include further sanctions, to ensure Moscow does not act with impunity, officials said. "In the coming days, the parties will complete all the necessary procedures to ensure the further functioning of this important global legal mechanism for the mutual limitation of nuclear missile arsenals".

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Unlike his immediate predecessors - including Trump, who was enamored of Putin and frequently undercut his own administration's tough stance on Russia - Biden has not held out hope for a "reset" in relations. There is a question whether Russia's new class of nuclear-armed undersea drones and other weapons would be covered.

After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries.

In what Navalny said was a show of fearlessness, he waited until returning to Russian Federation last week to release a video investigation into a billion-dollar Black Sea palace he alleges was built for Putin through a complex "slush fund". Big Tech companies posed a particular challenge to "legitimate democratic institutions" over the next decade, he said.

After his imprisonment, the Kremlin dissident called on pro-democracy Russians to protest and demand his release. Will Biden go that far? The court rejected Navalny's appeal of his 30-day detention.

U.S. experts on Russian Federation expected Biden's opening moves to reflect a longer-term hard line - although they also doubted how much Putin was swayed by any United States president, especially as he faces protests. While Biden has ordered a broad assessment of the intelligence and promised that Russian Federation would pay a price for the action, the White House gave no details of what he said - or threatened.

The White House released a readout of their meeting, and it said that Biden brought up matters of concern including the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny, interference in the 2020 United States election, and reports that Russian Federation had placed bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan.

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