Our first story this March 4th concerns the United States, the European Union and the nation of Russia. The U.S. and the E.U. have announced sanctions, penalties, on people in groups in Russia.
Sanctions are used to pressure or punish other countries for controversial actions. And Russia's alleged actions concern a political activist named Alexey Navalny. He opposes Russia's current leadership under President Vladimir Putin. Navalny was poisoned last summer with a chemical weapon and American intelligence officials believe a security agency of the Russian government was behind it.
By imposing sanctions on Russia, the Biden Administration says the international community is standing up to show that chemical weapons shouldn't ever be used by anyone at any time. But the spokesman for the Russian government called the accusation outrageous, saying the sanctions were nothing more than interference in Russia's internal affairs and suggesting they'd only worsen international relations with Russia.
The U.S. government says it plans to take more actions against Russia in the days ahead. American officials say hackers from the Asian country were involved in a cyber attack carried out last year that spied on U.S. government agencies and private companies.
U.S. officials have also accused Russia of interfering in American elections. Russia's government has publicly denied being involved in any of this. The nation is holding Alexey Navalny in a detention center though according to Navalny's lawyer and Russia is apparently planning to transfer him to a penal colony, a remote settlement for prisoners.