New US sanctions won't 'help' Putin-Biden summit plans

The White House

Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting of the boa.

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

The Biden administration is planning to announce sanctions on Russian officials as soon as Thursday, in a move that will target several individuals and entities, according to several people familiar with the matter.

But the Kremlin also summoned United States ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan on Wednesday and told him that Washington must refrain from introducing new sanctions on Russia if it wants to mend ties, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson told AFP.

The Biden administration is also expected to issue an executive order barring U.S financial institutions from purchasing ruble-denominated bonds from June, sources told BBC partner CBS News.

The diplomats will be targeted as punishment over allegations, denied by Russian Federation, that it offered to pay militants in Afghanistan to kill American military personnel, the newspaper said.

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.

In a report last month, USA intelligence agencies said Russian President Vladimir Putin likely directed efforts to try to swing the election to then-President Donald Trump and away from now-President Joe Biden.

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Last year, cybersecurity researchers identified a hack of a piece of software called SolarWinds - an intrusion that gave cyber criminals access to 18,000 government and private computer networks. The hackers gained access to digital files of several US government agencies, including the Treasury, Justice and State Departments.

The president of Microsoft, one of the companies targeted, has said the sophistication and scale of the SolarWinds attack was on a level not previously seen.

The U.S. has also publicly warned Russian Federation against aggressive actions in Ukraine.

Top intelligence officials on Wednesday told a Senate panel that Russian Federation would continue to employ "a variety of tactics" to undermine the United States, including mercenary operations, assassinations, arms sales, cyber capabilities and malign influence campaigns - but that Moscow did not seek military conflict.

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.

United States intelligence has previously said Putin and other senior officials "were aware of and probably directed" Russia's influence operation to sway the vote in the 2020 election in favor of Donald Trump.

Rebecca Kaplan and Melissa Quinn contributed reporting.

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