Russia has clapped back after the US announced “hostile” sanctions and the expulsion of 10 diplomats, saying a response is “inevitable”.
Russia blasted back at the United States after the Biden administration announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 diplomats over its “harmful activities”.
In an executive order made on Thursday, President Joe Biden sanctioned 32 Russia-linked entities and individuals who allegedly attempted to meddle in the 2020 US presidential election or spread disinformation.
He also increased restrictions on banks working with the Russian government and promised a crackdown those involved in “malicious cyber activities”.
The US Treasury Department — along with the European Union, Australia, Britain and Canada — further sanctioned eight groups associated with Russia’s “ongoing occupation and repression in Crimea” in line with the order.
The White House said that the step by Mr Biden “sends a signal that the United States will impose costs in a strategic and economically impactful manner on Russia if it continues or escalates its destabilizing international action.”
This particularly applies to efforts to undermine democracy or security in the US and among its allies; corruptly influence foreign governments; target journalists and dissidents; and violate principles of international law.
Mr Biden this meet offered to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for their first face-to-face talks, potentially in a third country.
But the Kremlin said on Thursday that the sanctions would not help and that it has warned the US about consequences for such “hostile” steps.
“The United States is not ready to come to terms with the objective reality that there is a multipolar world that excludes American hegemony,” said spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
“We have repeatedly warned the United States about the consequences of its hostile steps, which dangerously increase the degree of confrontation between our countries.
The move follows deep concern over Russia’s movements on the Ukrainian border as well as the poisoning of Russian activist Alexei Navalny.
Russian spy agencies mounted persistent disinformation campaigns during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, in part to help Donald Trump’s candidacy.
The personnel expelled from the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington, DC include representatives of Russian intelligence, the White House said.
It said the administration was also responding to the reports that Russia encouraged Taliban attacks against US and coalition personnel in Afghanistan.
The EU on Thursday voiced support for the US sanctions on Moscow over cyber attacks.
“The European Union and its Member States express their solidarity with the United States on the impact of malicious cyber activities, notably the SolarWinds cyber operation, which, the United States assesses, has been conducted by the Russian Federation,” foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.
The White House formally named the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), also known as APT 29, Cozy Bear, and The Dukes, as the perpetrator of a broad-scope cyber espionage campaign that exploited the SolarWinds Orion platform and other information technology infrastructures.
It said the compromised SolarWinds software supply chain allowed Russia “to spy on or potentially disrupt more than 16,000 computer systems worldwide” saying the scope of the operation was “a national security and public safety concern”.
The National Security Agency, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation jointly issued a cybersecurity advisory with details on vulnerabilities and steps networks can take “to identify and defend against the SVR’s malicious cyber activity”.
It said Russia’s actions highlighted the risks to tech companies worldwide and “should serve as a warning about the risks” of using services linked to Russia.
The NATO military alliance said US allies “support and stand in solidarity with the United States” after its announcement of actions over “Russia’s destabilizing activities.”
NATO cited a “sustained pattern” of Russian hostility, calling on Russia “to uphold its international obligations.”