Published: Fri, April 16, 2021
Science | By

United States expels Russian diplomats imposes new round of sanctions

United States expels Russian diplomats imposes new round of sanctions

"The Biden administration is preparing to announce sanctions and the expulsion of diplomats from the United States in response to a massive Russian hacking campaign that breached vital federal agencies as well as for election interference", a senior administration official said.

In August 2020, the Republican-led Senate panel confirmed that Manafort sought to give the data to Kilimnik, saying it posed a "grave counterintelligence threat" to the United States.

The Biden administration actions against alleged Russian activity come at a tense time in bilateral relations.

The sanctions also target Moscow's ability to borrow money by prohibiting USA financial institutions from buying Russian bonds directly from Russian institutions. Administration officials said Thursday they had low to moderate confidence in that intelligence. The individuals who were targeted include Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political consultant who worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and who was indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Besides infiltrating the networks of Microsoft, FireEye, Malwarebytes, and Mimecast, the attackers are also said to have used SolarWinds as a stepping stone to breaching several us agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Departments of State, Justice, Commerce, Homeland Security, Energy, Treasury, and the National Institutes of Health.

"The Committee found that Manafort's presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign", the report stated.

Sources said the Kremlin told Sullivan on Wednesday that Washington must refrain from introducing new sanctions on Russian Federation if it wants to mend ties.

Biden's late Thursday remarks came after Maria Zakharova, who serves as the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, warned that the United States would suffer "consequences" for "their hostile steps, which are increasing the confrontation between our countries to risky levels".

She said the ministry has summoned the US ambassador for a "hard conversation", but wouldn't immediately say what action Russian Federation will take.

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

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.

In a television interview last month, Biden replied "I do" when asked if he thought Putin was a "killer".

The US said the scope of the compromise was such that it was a clear national and public security concern, and placed an undue burden on the private sector victims that bear the "unusually high" mitigation costs. Putin later recalled his ambassador to the U.S. and pointed at the USA history of slavery and slaughtering Native Americans and the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.

It is unclear if these sanctions will be enough to change Russian behavior, the officials said. In the past year, OFAC has sanctioned crypto addresses tied to alleged efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And though Trump was often reluctant to criticize Putin, his administration also expelled diplomats in 2018 for Russia's alleged poisoning of an ex-intelligence officer in Britain.

U.S. officials are still grappling with the after effects of the SolarWinds intrusion which affected agencies including the Treasury Justice Energy and Homeland Security departments and are still assessing what information may have been stolen.

About 10 Russian diplomats are expected to be expelled according to another senior administration official.

For its part, the United Kingdom government's National Cyber Security Centre said Thursday that it was "highly likely" that the SVR was behind the SolarWinds breaches.

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