USA expels Russian diplomats imposes new round of sanctions

USA expels Russian diplomats imposes new round of sanctions”

The U.S. for the first time formally blamed Russian Federation for the hack, and it also for the first time said its intelligence agencies had determined Russian Federation to be behind the bounties.

The US government said it would also bolster its efforts to "promote a framework of responsible state behaviour in cyber space" and cooperate with allies and partners.

The statement said "no known Canadian entities have been exploited to date", but investigations are ongoing.

Besides that hack USA officials last month alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influence operations to help Donald Trump in his unsuccessful bid for reelection as president though there's no evidence Russia or anyone else changed votes or manipulated the outcome.

Russian Federation swiftly denounced the actions and warned of retaliation.

The U.S. also announced sanctions on 32 individuals and entities accused of attempting to interfere in last year's presidential election, including by spreading disinformation.

The U.S. also said it was sanctioning "five individuals and three entities related to Russia's occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and its severe human rights abuses against the local population". The Biden administration also formally attributed the SolarWinds breach to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

Other measures are expected as well, although the administration is not likely to announce them. Officials have been advising that their response to Russian Federation would be in ways both seen and unseen. "We will act firmly in response to Russian actions that cause harm to us or our allies and partners", Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Hitting back at Russian Federation also comes as the Biden administration has sought to keep open channels of diplomatic communication and to work with Russian Federation when it is in the US' interest.

President Joe Biden's executive order "sends a signal that the United States will impose costs in a strategic and economically impactful manner on Russian Federation if it continues or escalates its destabilizing global action", the White House said.

DETROW: Of course, you know, as you mentioned, for four years, the Trump administration took a much less confrontational tone with Russian Federation.

While some private-sector analysts have wondered how the alleged SVR operation differs from traditional cyber-espionage, the White House made the case Thursday that the scope of the hacking is a "national security and public safety concern" and that "it places an undue burden on the mostly private sector victims who must bear the unusually high cost of mitigating this incident".

US set to slap new sanctions on Russian officials as soon as Thursday - Sources

Through an executive order released on Thursday, the US government now has "strengthened authorities" to sanction Russian entities and individuals for malign activity. President Trump was often dismissing US intelligence assessments of Russian aggression. Trump disputed the legitimacy of intelligence reports that Russian Federation may have been offering bounties to Taliban fighters.

The executive order on "Blocking Property with Respect to Specified, Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation", was signed by Biden on Wednesday and will be made public on Thursday morning, US officials said. "In Washington, they must realize that it's necessary to pay for the degradation of bilateral relations".

Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman said Moscow would respond to the sanctions in the near future.

The sweeping measures are meant to punish Russian Federation for actions that US officials say cut to the core of American democracy and to deter future acts by imposing economic costs on Moscow, including by targeting its ability to borrow money.

Biden appears to be trying to strike a balance between defending USA national interests against Russian Federation while making clear he would prefer to have a less volatile relationship and to cooperate on issues such as curbing Iran's nuclear program.

In a television interview last month, Biden replied "I do" when asked if he thought Putin was a "killer".

For its part, the United Kingdom government's National Cyber Security Centre said Thursday that it was "highly likely" that the SVR was behind the SolarWinds breaches. Putin later recalled his ambassador to the USA and pointed at the United States history of slavery and slaughtering Native Americans and the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.

It is unclear whether the new US actions will result in changed behavior, especially since past measures by the USA have failed to bring an end to Russian hacking.

US officials are weighing whether to take additional action under an executive order to protect the IT supply chain "from further exploitation by Russian Federation", the White House said. And though Trump was often reluctant to criticize Putin his administration also expelled diplomats in 2018 for Russian Federation alleged poisoning of an ex-intelligence officer in Britain.

U.S. officials are still grappling with the after-effects of the SolarWinds intrusion, which affected agencies including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, and are still assessing what information may have been stolen. The breach exposed vulnerabilities in the supply chain as well as weaknesses in the federal government's own cyber defences.

The actions would represent the second major round of sanctions imposed by the Biden administration against Russian Federation.

In an executive order, Biden widened restrictions on United States banks trading in Russian government debt, expelled 10 diplomats who include alleged spies, and sanctioned 32 individuals accused of meddling in the 2020 presidential election.

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