Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday there was a “substantial chance” senior Kremlin officials ordered the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
“There is a substantial chance that this actually came from senior Russian officials,” Pompeo said in an interview with conservative podcaster Ben Shapiro.
“We’ll make sure we do our part to do whatever we can to reduce the risk that things like this happen again,” Pompeo added, according to a transcript provided by the State Department.
“I think people all around the world see this kind of activity for what it is. And when they see the effort to poison a dissident, and they recognize that there is a substantial chance that this actually came from senior Russian officials, I think this is not good for the Russian people,” Pompeo added. “I think it’s not good for Russia. I think people see this and say this is not the way countries that want to be powers, that want to be important and play on the global stage, this is not the way that they should engage in activity.”
Navalny became ill on a domestic flight in August and was later transported to a German hospital, where officials placed him in a medically-induced coma. Hospital personnel believe Navalny was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent, also suspected in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. The hospital said over the weekend that Navalny has emerged from the coma.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee also called for an investigation into Navalny’s poisoning Tuesday.
“If the Russian government is once again determined to have used a chemical weapon against one of its own nationals, additional sanctions should be imposed,” Chairman Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-Texas) wrote in a joint letter to President Trump Tuesday.
Trump said last week he is still awaiting evidence that Navalny was given Novichok.