According to US media reports, the US could impose sanctions on Russia as soon as today, including expelling 10 Russian diplomats, after the Kremlin had already warned it would respond strongly to the new US sanctions.
The Biden administration is preparing to take sanctions against Russian individuals and entities in retaliation for alleged wrongdoing, including the SolarWinds hacking and attempts to disrupt the US election, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter.
As part of the effort, the United States plans to sanction about a dozen individuals, including Russian government and intelligence officials, and about 20 entities, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. The moves could be announced as early as Thursday. The U.S. is also expected to expel as many as 10 Russian officials and diplomats, the person said.
U.S. President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call on Tuesday that the United States will defend its interests. At the same time, Biden floated the idea of a summit between the two leaders to discuss the issues facing Moscow and Washington. The prospect of the meeting sent the rouble to its biggest gain against the dollar in three months as investors bet that the summit could ease tensions and reduce the risk of new sanctions.
An assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded with high confidence that Mr. Putin and the Russian government authorized and directed efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. election. Some of the planned operations target channels controlled by Russian intelligence agencies that have been accused of spreading disinformation during the 2020 campaign, one of the people said. Other targets include individuals and entities operating outside Russia at Moscow’s direction.
The move comes after Biden, on his first day in office, ordered a review of four key areas related to Russia: election meddling, Russian bounty coverage of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, the Solarwind attack, and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The Biden administration announced sanctions against Russian officials over the Navalny incident last month, but has so far been slow to act in three other areas.
The attack on the SolarWinds network will target about half a dozen entities linked to the Russian security services, one of the people said. The measures are also expected to be announced as early as Thursday. The U.S. is also preparing to name Russia’s foreign intelligence agency as the author of the operation, the person said.
The attack, which was launched by hackers and damaged widely used software by the Texas-based SolarWinds Corp., penetrated more than 100 U.S. companies and nine government agencies before being discovered by a cybersecurity firm.
This week’s sanctions could be followed by further action. Bloomberg had previously reported that the United States was weighing other measures, including a bond issue aimed at Russia.
Russia has repeatedly denied allegations that it interfered in the election, poisoned critics or offered to pay bounties for the killing of U.S. soldiers. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that Russia would retaliate against any new sanctions, which he described as a ‘stupid’ tool.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan was invited to meet with Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, RIA Novosti reported on April 14.
Mr. Ushakov said Russia would respond in the strongest possible way if the United States imposed new sanctions while President Joe Biden tried to improve relations with Moscow.