Navalny’s death sparks calls for accountability, more Ukraine aid on Capitol Hill

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are vowing to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable after the death opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison was announced on Friday.

“As international leaders are meeting in Munich, we must be clear that Putin will be met with united opposition,” Speaker Mike Johnson said in a Friday statement. “As Congress debates the best path forward to support Ukraine, the United States, and our partners, must be using every means available to cut off Putin’s ability to fund his unprovoked war in Ukraine and aggression against the Baltic states.”

Johnson has thus far resisted taking up a Senate-passed measure that would provide billions in aid to Ukraine amid its ongoing war with Moscow.

Other Republican hawks echoed calls for accountability for the Russian leader.

“Putin is a murderous, paranoid dictator,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said on X. “History will not be kind to those in America who make apologies for Putin and praise Russian autocracy. Nor will history be kind to America’s leaders who stay silent because they fear backlash from online pundits.”

Many Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, renewed calls for sending a foreign aid package to Ukraine.

“House members blocking critical aid to Ukraine can revel in another high-five for Putin who just murdered his most vocal and visible critic,” Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) said in a post on X.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries slammed Republicans for blocking aid to Ukraine.

“Shame on the Pro-Putin MAGA extremists who continue to block bipartisan national security legislation in the House,” he wrote.

One prominent foreign policy Republican stopped short of mentioning Ukraine aid as he lamented Navalny’s death.

“If confirmed, the death of Alexei Navalny is a tragedy,” Texas Rep. Mike McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “He is a voice for a better Russia amid the corruption and brutality of Putin’s genocidal regime. The Kremlin must be held accountable for this outrage.”