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Biden set to issue sweeping sanctions against Russia

  • April 15, 2021

The Biden administration is set to issue a wide range of sanctions against Russia in retaliation for recent incursions including the SolarWinds cyber espionage campaign and Moscow’s interference in the 2020 presidential election, CBS News has confirmed. The sanctions, first reported by Bloomberg, may be issued as soon as Thursday.

The sanctions are expected to target more than 30 Russian entities and include the expulsion of at least 10 Russian individuals from the United States, including intelligence officials and diplomats, according to sources briefed on the matter.  

The administration is also expected to issue an executive order barring U.S. financial institutions from purchasing ruble-denominated bonds beginning in June of 2021, sources told CBS.

Administration officials have vowed for weeks to exact costs from Moscow. In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, President Biden said the U.S. would “act firmly” in defense of its national interests.   

The action is also expected to address reports that Russia encouraged Taliban fighters to injure or kill coalition forces in Afghanistan. 

According to an unclassified report from the U.S. intelligence community, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influence campaigns aimed at hurting President Biden’s candidacy during the 2020 election and boost former President Trump.

“A key element of Moscow’s strategy this election cycle was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives — including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden — to U.S. media organizations, U.S. officials, and prominent U.S. individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration,” the declassified report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated. 

Last year, cybersecurity researchers identified a hack of a piece of software called SolarWinds — an intrusion that gave cyber criminals access to 18,000 government and private computer networks. The U.S. intelligence community has identified hackers in Russia as behind the attack, and they gained access to digital files of several U.S. government agencies, including the Treasury, Justice and State Departments.  

Microsoft President Brad Smith in February told “60 Minutes” that the SolarWinds hack was, “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”

The U.S. has also publicly warned Russia against aggressive actions in Ukraine. Russia has amassed more than 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border, and more than 40,000 in Crimea, the region that Putin annexed away from Ukraine and declared Russian in 2014.   

On Wednesday, at a meeting in Brussels with NATO allies, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We’re deeply concerned about what we’re seeing, about Russia’s ongoing aggressive actions, rhetoric directed at Ukraine.”

Top intelligence officials on Wednesday told a Senate panel that Russia would continue to employ “a variety of tactics” to undermine the United States, including mercenary operations, assassinations, arms sales, cyber capabilities and malign influence campaigns — but that Moscow did not seek military conflict.

Rebecca Kaplan and Melissa Quinn contributed reporting.

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