United States to announce fresh sanctions on Russian Federation over SolarWinds hack

United States to announce fresh sanctions on Russian Federation over SolarWinds hack

U.S. media reported that Washington will announce on Thursday sanctions affecting more than 30 Russian entities, expelling more than 10 Russian diplomats from the United States and expanding an existing ban on USA banks trading in Russian government debt.

The Kremlin said Thursday that looming U.S. sanctions against Russia in retaliation for alleged election interference and hacking will not "help" a potential summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his United States counterpart Joe Biden.

The United States is also expected to announce aggressive new measures targeting the country's sovereign debt through restrictions on U.S. financial institutions' ability to trade such debt, according to another source.

Last year, cyber-security researchers identified a hack in a piece of software called SolarWinds - an intrusion that gave cyber-criminals access to 18,000 government and private computer networks.

The actions would represent the second major round of sanctions imposed by the Biden administration against Russian Federation.

The Kremlin has denied USA allegations that Russian Federation tried to meddle in the 2020 US presidential election or that it was behind a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp.

Russian Federation did not want relations with Washington to be a case of "one step forward and two steps back", he added.

The Biden Administration also recently made a decision to keep the Trump-appointed United States ambassador on the job in Moscow for the foreseeable future and invited Mr Putin to a climate change conference later this month.

Biden raises concerns with Putin about Ukraine confrontation
We call on Russian Federation to cease its provocations and to immediately de-escalate tensions in line with its worldwide obligations.

He said however that it will be up to Putin and Biden to decide whether the summit will still go ahead.

Intelligence officials believe Russian Federation was behind the attack.

In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin that the United States would act "firmly" to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to USA officials' account of the call.

USA officials are still grappling with the after-effects of the SolarWinds intrusion, which affected agencies including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, and are still assessing what information may have been stolen.

In a report last month, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded the Russian president likely directed online efforts to help President Donald Trump win a second term.

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".

Tensions have escalated between the two countries in recent months over a raft of issues, most recently over Russian Federation amassing troops on its border with Ukraine.

The West has expressed deep concern about the big build-up of Russian forces close to Ukraine's border, as fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has escalated. "That is unambiguous", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, referring to the summit.

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