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US Poised To Impose Sanctions On Russia For Cyber-Attacks

US Poised To Impose Sanctions On Russia For Cyber-Attacks

The US government is set to issue a wide range of sanctions against Russia, according to reports. The move would be retaliation for cyber-attacks aimed at the US, including alleged interference in the 2020 presidential elections. The sanctions, expected as soon as Thursday, target more than 30 Russian entities and include the expulsion of at least 10 individuals from the US.

 

Diplomats will reportedly be among those targeted. The administration of US President Joe Biden is also expected to issue an executive order barring US financial institutions from purchasing rouble-denominated bonds from June, sources told BBC partner CBS News.

 

The measures are coming at a tense time for US-Russia relations. They are the second major round of sanctions against Moscow after seven mid-level and senior Russian officials, and more than a dozen government entities, were targeted over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny last month. Russia says it had no part in the poisoning.

 

In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Mr Biden said the US would "act firmly" in defence of its national interests. Mr Biden also proposed a meeting with Mr Putin "in a third country" that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together.

 

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any new sanctions, which he described as illegal, would not help plans for a summit.

 

What's behind this latest move?

Last year, cyber-security researchers identified a hack in a piece of software called SolarWinds - an intrusion that gave cyber-criminals access to 18,000 government and private computer networks.

 

Intelligence officials believe Russia was behind the attack. The hackers gained access to digital files of several US government agencies, including the treasury, justice and state departments.

 

Microsoft president Brad Smith said in February the SolarWinds hack was "the largest and most sophisticated" the world had ever seen.

 

Last December then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he believed Russia was behind the attack but US investigators "were still unpacking precisely what it is".

 

The US is now set to formally accuse Russian intelligence of carrying out the hack. Russia has denied any involvement.

 

Why are things so bad between Russia and the US?

In his first foreign policy speech in February, Mr Biden made it clear he planned to stand up to Russia, pledging to hold it to account for alleged cyber-attacks and election interference.

 

"The days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions… are over," he said.

 

The quote provided a stark contrast to the words of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who rarely criticised Mr Putin.

 

In a report last month, US intelligence agencies concluded the Russian president had probably directed online efforts to help Donald Trump win a second term as US president.

 

The US has also publicly warned Russia against aggressive actions in Ukraine. Russia is beefing up its military presence near Ukraine's' eastern border.

 

Source: BBC

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