U.S. to Sanction Russia and Expel Envoys Over Alleged Hacking and Election Interference

The U.S. will impose new sanctions upon Russia after Moscow’s alleged interference with the election, widespread hacking campaign and other harmful activity, officials familiar with the sanctions said Thursday.

The new restrictions will expand upon the existing regulations that prohibit the U.S. from trading in Russian government debt.

With the Biden administration’s new executive order, U.S. banks will no longer be allowed to buy new bonds directly from Russia’s central bank, finance ministry or finance the country’s significant sovereign-wealth fund after June 14.

In addition to other regulations, ten Russian diplomats will now also be expelled from the U.S., including some due to allegations that Russia offered to pay militants in Afghanistan to kill U.S. military members. Sanctions will also be imposed due to Russia’s cyber intrusions, occupation of Crimea and tampering with U.S. elections.

Russia’s foreign-intelligence service, the SVR, will be formally accused of executing the SolarWinds hack of the U.S. government and corporate computer systems. The accusations and regulations are meant to punish Moscow and deter Russia from such actions in the future. 

Tensions between Western allies and Russia have continued to rise as Moscow gathers troops on its border with Ukraine in massive numbers not seen since before its Crimean invasion in 2014. Sources have said the sanctions have become increasingly more strict due to Russia’s inability to heed warnings against election interference and other malicious activities. 

President Biden spoke with Russian President Putin on Tuesday to formally disclose U.S. complaints about Russia’s hacking, election intrusion and activities in Ukraine. 

The White House has said Biden invited Putin to meet in the next coming months in order to address the issues face-to-face. Russia has yet to accept the invitation. 

The new regulations will also designate multiple Russian companies as working to support Russia’s nefarious cyber operations and designate more than 30 individuals and entities for tampering in U.S. elections. According to a person familiar with the sanctions, the U.K., Australia, Canada and the European Union will also sanction eight individuals and entities associated with the occupation of Crimea. 

In an unclassified report released last month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that President Putin authorized various intelligence operations intended to jeopardize Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and support former President Donald Trump’s re-election efforts. Russian officials have repeatedly denied tampering with U.S. elections. 

Additionally, according to U.S. officials, Russia has nearly 68,000 troops gathered on the Ukrainian border, as well as Iskander surface-to-surface missiles and other heavy weapons. The Biden administration is preparing options to provide nonlethal and lethal aid to Ukraine, and additional economic sanctions, should Russia attack Ukraine. 

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