US to impose sanctions on Russia for cyber-attacks
The US government is set to issue a wide range of sanctions against Russia, according to reports.
The move would be retaliation for cyber-attacks aimed at the US, including alleged interference in the 2020 presidential elections.
The sanctions, expected as soon as Thursday, target more than 30 Russian entities and include the expulsion of at least 10 individuals from the US.
Diplomats will reportedly be among those targeted.
The administration of US President Joe Biden is also expected to issue an executive order barring US financial institutions from purchasing ruble-denominated bonds from June, sources told BBC partner CBS News.
The sanctions would come at a tense time for US-Russia relations.
In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Mr Biden said the US would “act firmly” in defence of its national interests.
Mr Biden also proposed a meeting with Mr Putin “in a third country” that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together.
In a televised interview last month, he replied “I do” when asked if he thought Mr Putin was a “killer.” He said the days of the US “rolling over” to the Russian president were done.
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.
Intelligence officials believe Russia was behind the attack. The hackers gained access to digital files of several U.S. government agencies, including the Treasury, Justice and State Departments.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said in February the SolarWinds hack was “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen”.
In a report last month, US intelligence agencies concluded the Russian president likely directed online efforts to help Donald Trump win a second term as US president
The US has also publicly warned Russia against aggressive actions in Ukraine. Russia is reportedly beefing up its military presence on Ukraine’s’ eastern border.
“The hostility and unpredictability of America’s actions force us in general to be prepared for the worst scenarios,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week, anticipating the new sanctions.