American intelligence agencies have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely did not order the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Navalny’s passing in a prison camp in Russia’s Arctic regions earlier this year led to increased sanctions on the Russian economy by the United States and other nations, as well as disrupted talks on prisoner exchanges. Despite this, various American intelligence agencies, such as the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, have concluded that Putin was not directly involved in Navalny’s death, as per the WSJ.

According to the WSJ, Navalny ally Leonid Volkov expressed disbelief at the notion that Putin was unaware or did not approve of Navalny’s killing. Navalny had previously survived an assassination attempt with a Russian nerve agent in August 2020.

“Navalny was a high-value prisoner, politically, and everybody knew that Putin was personally invested in his fate. The chances for this kind of unintended death are low,” Polish Institute of International Affairs director Slawomir Dębski told the WSJ.

The American intelligence assessment, however, did not absolve Putin of any responsibility for the death of the Russian opposition leader, who was said to be part of a proposed prisoner exchange that might have involved imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan in return for a Russian operative accused of killing a Georgian dissident.

Navalny was arrested by Russian authorities in January 2021 for allegedly violating his probation related to a 2014 embezzlement conviction. Subsequently, he was handed a three and a half-year prison sentence by a Russian court. In July 2022, Navalny received a seven-year prison term for criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.