US administration slaps new sanctions on Russia

Photo: EPA

The US imposed today new sanction on Russia for cyberattacks and election interference, news wires reported. According to a Treasury statement, sweeping action was taken against “16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 US presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government." In addition to the broad sanctions issued by Treasury, the State Department announced it will expel 10 officials from Russia's diplomatic mission in the US.

The sanctions come following President Joe Biden's phone call this week with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and as Russian force amass near the Ukraine border. Washington formally accused Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, of being behind the SolarWinds cyberattack late last year, described by cybersecurity experts as one of the largest and most sophisticated hacking operations in history.

The penalties are also in response to a March report by the US Director of National Intelligence that concluded Russia's President Vladimir Putin authorised attempts to interfere in the 2020 election in former President Donald Trump's favour.

The Kremlin was fast to respond even before new sanctions were officially announced by saying that any new "illegal" US sanctions on Russia would reduce the chances of a summit between Biden and Putin. Moscow has denied US allegations that Russia tried to meddle in the 2020 US presidential election or that it was behind a cybersecurity breach affecting SolarWinds.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would wait to see what happened on the sanctions front before commenting in detail. But he said the Kremlin's stance on sanctions and its response to them remained unchanged. "We condemn any intentions to impose sanctions, consider them illegal, and in any case the principle of reciprocity operates in this area," Peskov said.

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