Biden Warned Putin In 2021 Of ‘Devastating’ Consequences If Alexei Navalny Died In Prison
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 16: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) greets US President Joe Biden (R) during the US - Russia Summit 2021 at the La Grange Villa near the Geneva Lake, on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. U.S.President Joe Biden is meeting Russian President Putin in Geneva for the first time as presidents, on Wednesday.
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, 47, died Friday in a remote prison, according to Russian authorities. His sudden death comes less than three years after President Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin that Russia would see “devastating” consequences if the Putin critic died in Russian custody. 

After meeting with the Russian president in Geneva in June 2021, Biden was asked if he and Putin discussed Navalny’s imprisonment and what would happen if Navalny were to die in prison.

“I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia,” Biden said.

The president didn’t specify what the “consequences” would be, but added, “What do you think happens when he’s saying it’s not about hurting Navalny, all the stuff he says to rationalize the treatment of Navalny, and then he dies in prison?… It’s about trust. It’s about their ability to influence other nations in a positive way.”

Biden addressed Navalny’s death during a press conference Friday afternoon, saying that “Putin is responsible.”

“Russian authorities are going to tell their own story. But make no mistake, make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Putin is responsible,” Biden said. “What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality. No one should be fooled — not in Russia, not at home, not anywhere in the world — Putin does not only target citizens of other countries … He also inflicts terrible crimes of his own people.”

The president was also asked about his comments in 2021 about Russia facing consequences over Navalny dying in prison.

“That was three years ago,” Biden said. “In the meantime, [Russia] has faced a hell of a lot of consequences. They’ve lost and/or had wounded over 350,000 Russian soldiers, they’ve made it into a position where they have been subjected to great sanctions across the board, and we’re contemplating what else can be done.”

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday morning that Navalny’s death is a “terrible tragedy.”

“Given the Russian government’s long and sordid history of doing harm to its opponents, it raises real and obvious questions about what happened here,” he said.

Navalny, a frequent critic of Putin, felt sick after going on a walk on Friday and soon after lost consciousness and died, according to Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service. The authorities added that an ambulance arrived after Navalny lost consciousness, but responders could not revive him, the Associated Press reported


Navalny was sentenced to 19 years in prison after being convicted on charges of “extremism” in August 2023. Navalny alleged that the Putin regime poisoned him in the past, and in 2020, he traveled to Germany to recover from nerve agent poisoning. In January 2021, Navalny was arrested upon his return to Moscow from Germany, and had been in prison ever since. 

The U.S. determined in March 2021 that the Russian government used a chemical weapon against Navalny, and House Republicans sent a letter to Biden, asking him to “impose the legally-mandated second round of sanctions as required by the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (‘CBW Act’) to hold the Putin regime accountable for its continued use of chemical weapons and flagrant disregard for international norms and fundamental rights.”

The Russian opposition leader was also critical of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which was launched in February 2022. Navalny — who was already in prison at the start of the Russia-Ukraine war for charges of embezzlement and contempt of court — was sentenced to an additional nine-year term less than a month after the war began. 

In 2011, Navalny founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which published investigations alleging corruption by senior Russian officials, and 10 years later the foundation was dissolved. Throughout his time behind bars, Navalny held that his charges and convictions were politically motivated. He also complained in a letter sent in 2021 that his health was worsening in prison, and he was not receiving adequate medical care.

Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report. 

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Biden Warned Putin In 2021 Of ‘Devastating’ Consequences If Alexei Navalny Died In Prison