The United States announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats on Thursday in retaliation for what Washington says is the Kremlin's USA election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity. The White House also imposed sanctions on 32 "entities and individuals" as an answer to reported 2020 election interference attempts. The White House said it was part of an effort to "disrupt the coordinated efforts of Russian officials, proxies and intelligence agencies to delegitimize our electoral process".
Biden formally blamed the Russia-backed cyberattack group Cozy Bear (aka APT29) as the culprit behind the SolarWinds breach.
The sanctions target over 30 Russian entities and expel a number of Russian diplomats from the US.More news: COVID cases surge in Ontario as province logs record high of 4,456
They come amid an already tense relationship between the US and Russia, with US President Joe Biden telling Russian President Vladimir Putin this week that the US would "act firmly in defence of its national interests" regarding Russian intrusions and election interference. The sanctions, the Treasury Department said, target "the private and state-owned companies" that "enable the Russian Intelligence Services' cyber activities".
President Joe Biden used a new executive order to authorize the actions, which also included a prohibition on USA financial firms participating in the "primary" bond market maintained by Russia's Central Bank and other Russian institutions after June 14.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that sanctions would not "help" momentum for a summit and once the White House unveiled its measures, the Russian foreign ministry warned a Russian response was "inevitable".
"The SolarWinds incident ... has had all the trappings of traditional espionage that, while unfortunate, has not historically been outside the bounds of responsible state behavior", Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., said while calling on the Biden administration to "fully explain the contours of [its] new policy that seems to focus on Russia's reckless history of attacks like NotPetya and the huge cleanup costs associated with SolarWinds". In that intrusion Russian hackers are believed to have infected widely used software with malicious code enabling them to access the networks of at least nine agencies in what U.S. officials believe was an intelligence gathering operation aimed at Mining Government secrets.More news: CDC chief urges MI to ‘close things down’ amid coronavirus surge
"The scope and scale of this compromise combined with Russia's history of carrying out reckless and disruptive cyber operations makes it a national security concern", the Treasury Department said.
"These actions are meant to hold Russian Federation to account for its reckless actions", he said in the statement.
In addition, Treasury Department targeted Russia's sovereign wealth, prohibiting US financial institutions from certain dealings with Russian sovereign debt. "Responsibility for what is happening lies entirely on the U.S".More news: Lawsuit Claims Virginia Cops Threatened Army Second Lieutenant During Traffic Stop