In response to cyber attacks and interference in the 2020 presidential election attributed to Moscow, the US government of Joe Biden announced on Thursday a series of financial sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of ten Russian diplomats.
The President of the United States has signed a decree which will make it possible to punish again Russia, so as to engender “strategic and economic consequences”, “if it continues or promotes an escalation of its actions of international destabilization”, warned the White House in a statement.
A gigantic cyberattack in 2020
As part of this decree, the US Treasury banned US financial institutions from directly purchasing debt issued by Russia after June 14. It also sanctions six Russian tech companies accused of supporting Moscow’s cyber intelligence activities.
It is a response to the gigantic cyberattack of 2020 which used as a vector SolarWinds, a US software publisher whose product was pirated to introduce a vulnerability among its users, including several US federal agencies. The Biden administration formally accuses Russia of being responsible for this attack, as it had already suggested.
Bounties for the Taliban to attack American soldiers?
In addition, the Treasury sanctions 32 entities and people accused of trying, on behalf of the Russian government, “to influence the 2020 presidential election in the United States”, according to the White House. And, in partnership with the European Union, Canada, the UK and Australia, the US government is also imposing sanctions on eight individuals and entities “associated with the continued occupation and repression in Crimea.”
As for the accusations of bounties offered by Russia to the Taliban to attack American or foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, the White House remains vague for the moment, affirming that this affair is “managed through diplomatic, military and intelligence channels”.
An “inevitable” response from Russia
Hours later, Russia promised an “inevitable” response and summoned the US ambassador to Moscow for a “difficult conversation.” “The United States is not ready to accept the objective reality of a multipolar world without American hegemony (…) Such aggressive behavior will receive a strong response. The response to the sanctions will be inevitable, ”said Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
“Washington must understand that the price of the deterioration of bilateral relations will have to be paid. The responsibility for what happens will fall entirely on the United States, ”she added. Maria Zakharova also announced that the American Ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, had been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry for “a conversation which will be, for the American side, difficult”.