The United States on Thursday imposed a broad array of sanctions on Russia to punish it for alleged interference in U.S. elections, cyber-hacking, bullying Ukraine and other “malign” acts.
The measures blacklisted Russian companies, expelled Russian diplomats and placed limits on the Russian sovereign debt market in steps sure to anger Moscow.
Among the actions, President Joe Biden issue an executive order authorizing the U.S. government to sanction any sector of the Russian economy and used it to restrict Russia’s ability to issue sovereign debt to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2020 U.S. election.
Biden barred U.S. financial institutions from taking part in the primary market for rouble-denominated Russian sovereign bonds from June 14. U.S. banks have been barred from taking part in the primary market for non-rouble sovereign bonds since 2019.
The U.S. Treasury also blacklisted 32 entities and individuals which it said had carried out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election and other “acts of disinformation and interference”.
In concert with the European Union, Britain, Australia and Canada, the Treasury also sanctioned eight individuals associated with Russia’s ongoing occupation and repression in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The Kremlin, speaking ahead of the publication of the executive order, said it would respond in kind and said new U.S. measures would reduce the chances of a summit between U.S. Biden and President Vladimir Putin taking place.
Russia denies meddling in U.S. elections and orchestrating a cyber hack that used U.S. tech company SolarWinds Corp SWI.N to penetrate U.S. government networks. It also denies using a nerve agent to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
It has also brushed off allegations that it put bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
The White House said it was expelling 10 Russian diplomats in Washington D.C., including representatives of the Russian intelligence services and for the first time, formally named the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) as the perpetrator of the SolarWinds Corp hack.
“What President Biden is going to announce today, we believe, are proportionate measures to defend American interests in response to harmful russian actions including cyber intrusions and election interference,” said Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, on CNN. “His goal is to provide a significant and credible response but not to escalate the situation.”
The actions, detailed in a host of statements by the White House and the Treasury department, initially sent the Russian rouble down more than 2% against the dollar and to a more than five-month low against the euro before clawing back some losses.
(Reporting By Trevor Hunnicutt, Tim Ahmann, Doina Chiacu in Washington and by Arshad Mohammed in St. Paul, Writing by Arshad Mohammed, Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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