U.S. Announces Sanctions On Russia Over Election Interference, Cyber Hack

By Jason Hall

April 15, 2021

The United States announced a sweeping series of sanctions against Russia over election interference and other instances of "harmful foreign activities" on Thursday (April 15.)

ABC News reports the sanctions are in relation to the SolarWinds breach massive cyber hack against U.S. federal agencies, formally blaming Russia for the hack, as well as "bounties" it had reportedly offered in Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden's administration said it plans to expel 10 personnel from Russia's diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C., which includes "representatives of Russian intelligence services."

The U.S. also announced sanctions against "16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government," which includes "disinformation outlets controlled by Russian intelligence services," the Russian "financier" and an "enabler" of the "troll farm" previously sanctioned for the 2016 election interference, as well as a "known Russian agent" the U.S. Treasury Department confirmed via ABC News.

The Treasury Department said the sanctions introduced on Thursday target "the private and state-owned companies" that have enabled "the Russian Intelligence Services' cyber activities."

Additionally, the Treasury Department has also prohibited U.S. financial institutions from participating in certain dealings with Russian sovereign debt, implementing sanctions against "five individuals and three entities related to Russia's occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and its severe human rights abuses against the local population."

The sanctions were announced amid growing concern over a recent massive increase of Russian troops along Ukraine's border and in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula occupied by Russia since 2014.

President Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin of Thursday's sanctions ahead of time during a phone call on Tuesday (April 13), with President Biden invoking a previous conversation that the U.S. would "respond" if it believed Russia participated in recent cyber intrusions and election interference in the United States, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed to reporters via ABC News.

"When he spoke to him this week, [President Biden] said, 'I told you that I was going to look into this, I made a determination that Russia has, in fact, conducted these actions, and I'm a man of my word, I am ready to respond, but I'm not looking to escalate. I'm looking to provide proportionate responses, and I believe that it is in our interest to find a stable and predictable way forward in this relationship,'" Sullivan said.

Sullivan added that Biden planned to meet with Putin in the coming months, with the White House announcing a summit proposal earlier in the week.

Photo: Getty Images

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