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U.S. To Expel 10 Russian Intel Officers, Target Debt With Sanctions

By RFE/RL April 15, 2021

U.S. media reports say sanctions looming against Russia in retaliation for alleged election interference and hacking will include the expulsion of 10 intelligence officers from the United States as well as targeting all Russian debt issued after April 14.

The new sanctions, which are expected to be announced on April 15, come two days after U.S. President Joe Biden held a phone call with Vladimir Putin where Biden invited his Russian counterpart to hold a summit on neutral ground as tensions between the West and Russia mount over the conflict in Ukraine.

U.S. media reported the sanctions will affect more than 30 Russian entities, in addition to the expulsion of what Washington called "10 intelligence officers." It will also expand an existing ban on U.S. banks from trading in Russian government debt.

The Washington Post reported that a new order by Biden will also allow his administration to broaden sovereign debt sanctions against Russia in the future.

President Joe Biden's administration has been signaling for weeks that it is preparing to make a major response to the cybersecurity breach affecting software made by the company SolarWinds.

U.S. intelligence officials and technology companies have said the intrusion, discovered in December, was likely the work of Russian hackers. Moscow has denied any involvement.

At least nine government agencies, including the Treasury, Justice, and Commerce departments, and 100 private companies were breached.

The sanctions are also aimed at retaliating for alleged interference during the 2020 presidential election. A U.S. intelligence community assessment concluded with a high degree of confidence that President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government authorized and directed an effort to influence the election.

Some of the planned sanctions are aimed at operations blamed for sowing disinformation during the campaign, according to one of the sources quoted by Bloomberg. Others to be targeted include individuals and entities that operate outside Russia at the behest of Moscow.

The White House, the State Department, and the Treasury Department had no immediate comment on the reports.

Biden ordered a review on his first full day in office into election interference, reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, the SolarWinds attack, and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

The administration announced sanctions against Russian officials over Navalny last month.

Russia has repeatedly rejected accusations that it meddled in the U.S. election, offered to pay bounties for the killing of U.S troops, or took part in the poisoning of Navalny.

With reporting by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Bloomberg

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-us-sanctions- hack-election-interference/31204617.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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