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Iran Press TV

Biden administration imposes sweeping sanctions on Russia

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 15 April 2021 2:13 PM

The administration of US President Joe Biden has announced sweeping sanctions against Russia accusing it of being involved in a recent major cyber espionage operation against the United States.

Washington imposed sanctions on Moscow on Thursday over alleged election interference and cyber activity, and targeted several officials and entities.

The Treasury Department will block US financial institutions from purchasing bonds from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation after June 14 and from lending funds to these institutions.

The measures are part of an executive order signed by President Biden that also leaves open the possibility for the administration to expand the sanctions on Russian sovereign debt.

In addition, Washington has also announced to expel 10 personnel from the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington, claiming that some of them are representatives of Russian intelligence services.

"These actions are intended to hold Russia to account for its reckless actions. We will act firmly in response to Russian actions that cause harm to us or our allies and partners," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Thursday. "Where possible, the United States will also seek opportunities for cooperation with Russia, with the goal of building a more stable and predictable relationship consistent with U.S. interests."

The US administration is also imposing sanctions on six Russian technology companies that it claimsworks with Russian intelligence operations, as well as 32 individuals involved in Russian efforts to influence the 2020 election in favor of Donald Trump, the Republican candidate who lost to Biden.

A declassified US intelligence report last month alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putinauthorized the Russian government's "influence operations" to undermine then-Democratic candidate Biden during the 2020 election and "to exacerbate political divisions in the US."

The Kremlin described the report as "absolutely groundless and unsubstantiated" and said it was just a pretext for introducing new restrictions against Russia.

The wide-ranging US sanctions come in response to the SolarWinds hack that the US government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia, a charge Moscow denies.

The breach gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used the company's products.

Microsoft President Brad Smith described the cyberattack as "the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen."

In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin that the United States would act "firmly" to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to US officials' account of the call.

Biden also proposed a meeting with Putin "in a third country" that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together.

In the past few weeks, Washington and its NATO allies have been alarmed by Russia's troop deployment near Ukraine, which the alliance claims is Moscow's biggest buildup since 2014.

Moscow says the military buildup — as part of a three-week snap military drill to test combat readiness — poses no threat to any country and is for defensive purposes.

"The hostility and unpredictability of America's actions force us in general to be prepared for the worst scenarios," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week, anticipating the new sanctions.

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