United States imposes wide array of sanctions on Russian Federation for 'malign' actions

US President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on President Vladimir Putin's Russia

US President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on President Vladimir Putin's Russia

The U.S. also sanctioned "16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government", according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Among the actions, President Joe Biden issued an executive order authorising the U.S. government to sanction any sector of the Russian economy and used it to restrict Russia's ability to issue sovereign debt to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2020 United States election, an allegation Russia denies. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner said the sanctions were a "good first step" to showing that such actions were not acceptable.

One reason the rollout of these actions has taken longer than anticipated is because the White House was not satisfied with the options the State Department initially presented and wanted more expanded sanctions, a USA official familiar with the plans said.

The United States announced sanctions against Russian Federation on Thursday and the expulsion of 10 diplomats in retaliation for what Washington says is the Kremlin's U.S. election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

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. They are the administration's second major foreign policy move in two days, following the announcement of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. Until now, President Joe Biden has focused on the coronavirus pandemic and economy in his first months in office. 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". During the background call with journalists on Thursday morning, a senior administration official declined to specify how the administration selected the specific personnel beyond stating that the USA government had "determined that they were acting in a manner inconsistent with their status" in the United States. And they're saying these steps make a summit a lot less likely.

The sanctions announced Thursday are the latest in a series of actions that successive presidential administrations have taken to counter Russian behavior seen as antagonistic.

Some experts suggest this latest round might have more resonance because of its financial impact: The order makes it more hard for Russia to borrow money by barring US banks from buying Russian bonds directly from the Russian Central Bank, Russian National Wealth Fund and Finance Ministry.

The United States is imposing new sanctions against Russian Federation.

Reports of alleged "bounties" surfaced previous year, with the Trump administration coming under fire for not raising the issue directly with Russian Federation. This morning, White House officials said USA intelligence had low to moderate confidence in that, as opposed to that high confidence about SolarWinds.

Through an executive order released on Thursday, the US government now has "strengthened authorities" to sanction Russian entities and individuals for malign activity.

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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.

"To bolster its malicious cyber operations, the FSB cultivates and co-opts criminal hackers, including the previously designated Evil Corp, enabling them to engage in disruptive ransomware attacks and phishing campaigns", the Treasury Department said.

The adversary's compromise of the SolarWinds software supply chain is said to have given it the ability to remotely spy or potentially disrupt more than 16,000 computer systems worldwide, according to the executive order issued by the US government.

After the sanctions were announced, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that "such aggressive behaviour will undoubtedly trigger a resolute retaliation". "In Washington, they must realize that it's necessary to pay for the degradation of bilateral relations".

President Biden informed Putin that the sanctions were coming earlier this week.

The measures are to be announced on Thursday, according to the official, who was not authorised to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Joe Biden's broadside against Russian Federation came the same week as he offered to meet President Vladimir Putin for their first summit - a meeting USA officials say remains "vital" so that the two countries can deescalate.

In a television interview last month, Biden replied "I do" when asked if he thought Putin was a "killer". There is an ongoing substantial buildup of Russian troops along the Ukraine border, something that's really alarming Western Europe and the U.S. 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.

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.

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