US poised to impose sanctions on Russia for cyber-attacks

US expected to sanction Russia and expel officials over hacks and election interference

US expected to sanction Russia and expel officials over hacks and election interference

President Joe Biden told Putin this week in their second call to "de-escalate tensions" following a Russian military buildup on Ukraine's border, and said the USA would "act firmly in defence of its national interests" regarding Russian intrusions and election interference.

The United States will announce sanctions against Russian Federation on Thursday in retaliation for alleged election interference and hacking, American media reported.

The sanctions are expected to target more than 30 Russian entities and include the expulsion of at least 10 Russian individuals from the United States, including intelligence officials and diplomats, according to sources briefed on the matter. And though Trump was often reluctant to criticise Putin, his administration also expelled diplomats in 2018 for Russia's alleged poisoning of an ex-intelligence officer in Britain.

The sanctions come at a hard time for US-Russia relations.

The Kremlin said Thursday that planned USA sanctions against Russia in retaliation for alleged election interference and hacking will not "help" a potential summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden.

Mr Biden put that approach on display this week when he proposed a summit with Mr Putin during their second phone call.

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The expected moves by the Biden administration are likely to exacerbate tensions in a relationship that slumped to a new post-Cold War low last month after Biden said he thought Putin was a "killer". He said the days of the United States "rolling over" to Putin were done. The hackers gained access to digital files of several US government agencies, including the Treasury, Justice and State Departments.

Top intelligence officials on Wednesday told a Senate panel that Russian Federation would continue to employ "a variety of tactics" to undermine the United States, including mercenary operations, assassinations, arms sales, cyber capabilities and malign influence campaigns - but that Moscow did not seek military conflict.

Microsoft President Brad Smith described the attack, which was identified in December, as "the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen".

The United States will announce sanctions on Russian Federation as soon as Thursday for alleged election interference and malicious cyber activity, targeting several individuals and entities, people familiar the matter said.

"What is now being discussed - likely sanctions - will in no way help such a meeting". Russian Federation is reportedly beefing up its military presence on Ukraine's' eastern border.

James Clayton is the BBC's North America technology reporter based in San Francisco.

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