U.S. to announce fresh sanctions on Russian Federation over SolarWinds hack

Brenda Watkins
April 15, 2021

The US sanctions will be the first retaliatory act against the Kremlin for last year's hack.

The Kremlin said Thursday that looming 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 United States counterpart Joe Biden.

According to an unclassified report from the USA intelligence community, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influence campaigns aimed at hurting President Biden's candidacy during the 2020 election and boost former President Trump.

The Biden administration is planning to announce sanctions on Russian officials as soon as Thursday, in a move that will target several individuals and entities, according to several people familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear what, if any, other actions might be planned, and officials had previously said they expected to take actions both seen and unseen.

The sanctions, presumably meant to send a clear retributive message to Russian Federation and to deter similar acts in the future, come amid an already tense relationship between the USA and Russian Federation.

In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin that the United States would act "firmly" to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to U.S. officials' account of the call.

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Putin's participation in a Biden-backed climate summit remained under discussion, Peskov said.

The Biden Administration also recently made a decision to keep the Trump-appointed United States ambassador on the job in Moscow for the foreseeable future and invited Mr Putin to a climate change conference later this month.

Putin later recalled his ambassador to the USA and pointed at the U.S. history of slavery and slaughtering Native Americans and the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.

But the Kremlin also summoned United States ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan on Wednesday and told him that Washington must refrain from introducing new sanctions on Russia if it wants to mend ties, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson told AFP. 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 U.S. intelligence community has identified hackers in Russian Federation as behind the attack, and they gained access to digital files of several U.S. government agencies, including the Treasury, Justice and State Departments.

The breach exposed vulnerabilities in the supply chain as well as weaknesses in the federal government's own cyber defences.

The new sanctions come just after Biden in a phone call with Putin on Tuesday invited him to hold a summit on neutral ground, after tensions between the West and Russian Federation escalated in recent weeks over the conflict in Ukraine.

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