USA poised to sanction Russian Federation for cyber-attacks

Tanya Simon
April 17, 2021

Lavrov has announced that Russian Federation will expel 10 US diplomats in a retaliatory response to the USA sanctions imposed on Thursday.

Russian Federation swiftly denounced the actions and warned of retaliation.

It remained unclear whether the USA actions would actually result in changed behavior, especially since past measures by the US have failed to bring an end to Russian hacking.

The United States on Thursday imposed a broad array of sanctions on Russian Federation, including curbs to its sovereign debt market, to punish it for interfering in last year's U.S. election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions. The US for the first time explicitly linked that intrusion to a Russian intelligence service.

The measures, part of a broader retaliatory package, were approved by President Vladimir Putin, as a response to an array of US government sanctions imposed on Moscow a day earlier, including curbs to its sovereign debt market.

The United States has imposed new sanctions and restrictions on Russia in response to actions by the Russian government and intelligence services against USA interests and sovereignty, according to an executive order issued by President Joe Biden on Thursday, April 15. Last month, the US sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials, along with more than a dozen government entities, over a almost fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing.

The 10 diplomats being expelled include representatives of Russian intelligence services, the Biden administration said.

"From 21:00 on April 24 until 21:00 on October 31, passage through the territorial sea of the Russian Federation for foreign military ships and other state vessels will be halted", the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited a Defence Ministry statement as saying.

The Kremlin says Putin has yet to decide whether he will take part in a US -led climate summit next week.

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The ministry said the officials had "participated in the anti-Russian push" of USA politics. Trump disputed the legitimacy of intelligence reports that Russian Federation may have been offering bounties to Taliban fighters.

"I don't think it's realistic to expect the new sanctions will shift Russia's risk calculus in a fundamental fashion", he added. But they are likely to increase tension in the relationship between the USA and Russian Federation.

"We call on Russian Federation to cease immediately its destabilizing behavior, and to uphold its global obligations", they said.

Ties then hit rock bottom last month after Biden, who promised to take a firmer line on Moscow than his predecessor Donald Trump, agreed with a description of Putin as a "killer".

It remained unclear whether the USA actions would actually result in changed behaviour, especially since past measures by the US have failed to bring an end to Russian hacking.

Earlier this week Niinisto said he and Putin had spoken and the two discussed "the planned meeting" with Biden. Putin later recalled his ambassador to the USA and pointed to US history, including slavery and the atomic bombing of Japan in the Second World War.

Russian diplomats have also been targeted as part of the sanctions.

Relations have plunged further more recently, with Washington accusing Moscow of interfering in its presidential elections in 2016 and 2020. The breach exposed vulnerabilities in the supply chain as well as weaknesses in the federal government's own cyber defenses.

The actions would represent the second major round of sanctions imposed by the Biden administration against Russian Federation.

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