US set to impose sanctions on 12 Russians, expel 10 Russian diplomats: Report
The United States will announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday over alleged election interference and cyber activity, targeting several officials and entities, people familiar with the matter said.
On Wednesday, a White House correspondent for Bloomberg News reported that the Biden administration intends to impose sanctions against 12 Russian government and intelligence officials, and against 20 entities over allegations of election interference and a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by Texas-based firm SolarWinds Corp.
The sanctions, in which 30 entities are expected to be blacklisted, will be tied with orders expelling about 10 Russian officials from the United States, one of the people said.
Russia's presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan that Moscow would resolutely react to potential new sanctions.
The forty ties between Moscow and Washington have already hit the bottom over Ukraine and last month’s President Joe Biden’s offensive comment about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The wide-ranging US sanctions would come in response to the SolarWinds hack that the US government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia, a charge Moscow denies.
The breach gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used the company's products.
Microsoft President Brad Smith described the cyberattack as "the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen."
Also in March, a US intelligence released report alleged that Putin authorized the Russian government's "influence operations" to undermine then-Democratic candidate Biden during the 2020 election and “to exacerbate political divisions in the US.”
The Kremlin described the report as "absolutely groundless and unsubstantiated" and said it was just a pretext for introducing new restrictions against Russia.
In the past few weeks, Washington and its NATO allies have been alarmed by Russia’s troop deployment near Ukraine, which the alliance claims is Moscow’s biggest buildup since 2014.
Moscow says the military buildup — as part of a three-week snap military drill to test combat readiness — poses no threat to any country and is for defensive purposes.
"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.