Death of Putin’s Top Dissident Puts Ukraine Aid in the Spotlight

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The death of Alexei Navalny on Friday has renewed the push to fight back against Russian President Vladimir Putin and provide aid for Ukraine. The cause of death of Putin’s most-outspoken critic is still unknown and his body still has not been returned to his family, now five days after his death. 

$60 billion in aid for Ukraine is awaiting action in the House and many are calling on Republican leaders to act. Many lawmakers have no doubt that Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death, including President Biden who said he’s considering new sanctions against Russia in response. 

Those who’ve been outspoken against Putin in the wake of Navalny’s death say providing aid for Ukraine to push back against the Russian leader is more important now than it ever has been. 

Experts say Navalny’s death probably won’t persuade House Republicans to pass the $95 billion foreign aid package, which includes $60 billion for Ukraine. Yet, Democrats remain hopeful that this recent news will push House Republicans to reconsider. Experts say it will contribute to scrutiny of House Republicans, but that it ultimately won’t change their stance on the aid package.

“It’s going to make it a little bit more difficult for them to make the case. However, the big case that they’ve been making has less to do with Putin and more to do with spending,” said Dr. Todd Belt, Professor and Director of George Washington University’s Political Management Graduate School. “And as we get closer to these budget deadlines, that we’re coming up on at the beginning of March, that’s even going to be more salient.” 

“We must show Putin that he must pay a price for the death of Navalny and the best price the U.S. can make Putin pay is to give Ukraine the help they need to fend off Putin’s evil aggressions,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- NY). 

Navalny died while serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges he said were politically motivated. Both the House and Senate are out of session for the week.