The world was shaken when the death of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was announced on Friday. After having fought a long, hard, battle against the country’s authoritarian government, his death is a major blow to the fight for freedom worldwide.

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READ: Alexei Navalny’s Death in a Prison Camp Was a Message From Putin to the World and to Russia


The question now is, what happens next?

President Joe Biden once told Russian President Vladimir Putin that there would be consequences if Navalny perished in prison. Since this unfortunate scenario has now materialized, it is unclear how the White House will respond.

While speaking at a 2021 Geneva summit with Putin, Biden said he “made it clear to [Putin] that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia.”

Shortly after Navalny’s death was announced, the president lashed out at Putin, blaming him for the tragedy and criticizing him for targeting civilians.

Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Putin is responsible. 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 his citizens of other countries, as we’ve seen what’s going on in Ukraine right now. He also inflicts terrible crimes on his own people. And as people across Russia and around the world are mourning Navalny today, today because he was so many things that Putin was not.

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So far, it is not clear exactly how Navalny died. But his death allegedly came after he reported feeling unwell after taking a walk.

The 47-year-old politician, who was serving a decades-long prison sentence on trumped-up charges at a facility around 40 miles north of the Arctic Circle, reportedly said he felt “unwell” after taking a walk and passed away shortly after.

The Russian federal prison service confirmed his death in a statement:

On February 16, 2024, in Penal Colony No. 3, the convict Alexei Navalny felt unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness, according to representatives of the department.

Medical personnel from the institution arrived promptly, and an ambulance crew was called. All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, but unfortunately, they did not yield positive results. The emergency medical team pronounced the convict dead. The cause of death is being investigated.

Given the Russian state’s notoriously loose relationship with the truth and penchant for murdering political opponents, it is unclear whether this version of events is correct or whether he was the subject of a deliberate assassination.

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READ MORE: Alexei Navalny, Martyr for Russian Democracy, Dies in Prison Aged 47


Regardless of the nature of Navalny’s demise, the fact still remains that Putin is responsible either for the negligence or deliberate action that led to his death. The question is: Will Biden make good on his threat made in 2021?

Currently, the world is looking to see how the Biden administration will respond and this situation puts the White House in a precarious position. Failing to take action could be seen as a sign of weakness which could encourage Putin and other authoritarian regimes to disregard human rights with impunity. However, even taking action could bring with it a set of complexities.

If the administration decides to move against the Kremlin, possible measures could include a more aggressive round of sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy or individuals close to Putin. The president could also increase support for NATO and aid for Ukraine, which could be the most likely response to Navalny’s death. Indeed, at least one left-wing columnist has already exploited the dissident’s death to shame people into supporting more aid to Ukraine.


READ: No, Conservatives Do Not Support Vladimir Putin’s Russia

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Such measures might send a tougher message to Russia, but it could also further strain relations between Washington and Moscow. But, the administration could decide that sending a message is worth the potential ramifications.

Either way, the passing of Alexei Navalny is a watershed moment in the global fight against tyranny. Biden’s next move will be scrutinized. Regardless of the choices the administration makes, the implications will be felt for years to come.