Biden draws up fresh sanctions on Russia, expels 10 diplomats

(Update 1: Adds detail)

Washington, Apr 15 (EFE).- United States president Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled fresh sanctions against Russia and expelled 10 diplomats in response to alleged interference in the 2020 elections and cyber-attacks.

The White House said in a statement the expelled diplomatic staff included members of the intelligence service.

Biden’s administration also directly accused the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) of perpetrating the 2019 cyber attack that allowed hackers access to sensitive information from government departments and business via the SolarWinds IT program.

“The SVR’s compromise of the SolarWinds software supply chain gave it the ability to spy on or potentially disrupt more than 16,000 computer systems worldwide,” the White House said.

In his executive order, Biden sanctioned six Russian companies and 32 organizations and individuals for “carrying out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and other acts of disinformation and interference.”

Another eight individuals and entities were sanctioned for their links to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“Treasury, in partnership with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, sanctioned eight individuals and entities associated with Russia’s ongoing occupation and repression in Crimea,” the statement added.

The new sanctions prohibit US financial services from participating in the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued by Russia’s central bank and other institutions as of 14 July this year.

The statement said: “The Biden administration has been clear that the United States desires a relationship with Russia that is stable and predictable. We do not think that we need to continue on a negative trajectory.

“However, we have also been clear—publicly and privately—that we will defend our national interests and impose costs for Russian Government actions that seek to harm us.”

Biden’s administration said it was “responding” to reports — first covered in the New York Times — that Russia encouraged Taliban militias to target American soldiers in Afghanistan in exchange for bounty payments.

In response to the sanctions, the Kremlin summoned the US ambassador to Russia John Sulliven to give explanations.

The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov earlier said that the sanctions, which had been foreshadowed for months, would not help the proposed summit between Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin.EFE


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