Germany says Kremlin critic was poisoned with same nerve agent used in UK attack

Germany says Kremlin critic was poisoned with same nerve agent used in UK attack
© Getty Images

Alexei Navalny, a top Russian opposition leader, was poisoned last month with the same nerve agent that was used on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018 in the United Kingdom, according to the German government.

In a statement Wednesday, the German government said that Navalny, who is currently being treated in Berlin, was poisoned with the chemical nerve agent Novichok in an attack that is suspected to have been ordered by Moscow.

Navalny first fell ill on a plane in Siberia last month and has since been in an induced coma. Russia has denied poisoning Navalny, though it has often used such tactics in the past against opposition figures.

ADVERTISEMENT

The German government said that Chancellor Angela Merkel and several top officials met to discuss the poisoning and that Berlin “condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms” and urges Moscow to “explain itself.”

Moscow first sparked international backlash after the 2018 poisoning of Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, with Novichok in an attack widely viewed as revenge against Skripal for his past work for the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service. Several sanctions were levied against Russian officials over the poisoning, and more than 150 diplomats across Europe and the U.S. were expelled.

Navalny, considered the unofficial leader of the Russian opposition and a top critic of President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin's flying nuclear command center presents a Doomsday scenario indeed Russian court sentences Navalny ally to 18 months of supervision Russia says 24 diplomats asked by US to leave by September MORE, is currently receiving treatment at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin hospital in Berlin. It is the second time Navalny is believed to have been poisoned, though the first incident was officially ruled an allergic reaction.

Russian officials had initially prevented him from leaving the country but allowed him and his wife to go to Germany after a flood of international criticism.

Bipartisan lawmakers in Washington have torn into Moscow over the poisoning, with Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenators highlight national security threats from China during rare public hearing Rubio presses DNI to investigate alleged unmasking of Tucker Carlson Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal MORE (R-Fla.), the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying the suspected poisoning was “at least the 31st assassination attempt against a Putin opponent/defector,” and Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling the incident “awful news.”

“It goes without saying that you oppose Putin at your own peril and people like Mr. Navalny are on the right side of history. As always, the price for standing up for freedom comes at a heavy cost,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin Graham19 House Democrats call on Capitol physician to mandate vaccines The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Simone wins bronze with altered beam routine The job of shielding journalists is not finished MORE (R-S.C.), adding that opposition figures in Russia “have my admiration and total support.” 

President TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party MORE closed the Russian Consulate in Seattle and expelled 48 Russian diplomats in the U.S. and 12 Russian intelligence officials based at the United Nations after the 2018 poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, though experts say Navalny’s poisoning may be harder to punish given that it happened in Russia.