U.S. Slaps New Sanctions On Russia Over Cyberattack, Election Meddling

US set to slap new sanctions on Russian officials as soon as Thursday - Sources

It came on the same day the United States announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington says was the Kremlin's USA election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

The United States' prohibition on American companies trading Russia's sovereign debt with the country's central bank - an expansion of previous limits - caused Russia's ruble currency to slide Thursday.

Moscow reacted angrily, saying this dangerously raised the temperature between the two countries.

The first USA official said the Russian rouble-denominated sovereign debt market was valued at about $185 billion, about a quarter of which is held by foreign investors.

The White House did not impose sanctions related to separate reports that Russian Federation encouraged the Taliban to attack USA and allied troops in Afghanistan, saying instead that Biden was using diplomatic, military and intelligence channels to respond. US banks have been barred from taking part in the primary market for non-trouble sovereign bonds since 2019. USA banks have been barred from taking part in the primary market for non-rouble sovereign bonds since 2019.

As a part of the announcement, the US formally named the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service as the force behind the SolarWinds hack that affected the federal government and wide swaths of the private sector.

Tanks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are seen during drills at an unknown location near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea, Ukraine.

Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in a televised briefing said Ambassador John Sullivan had been summoned for a "difficult conversation". It has also brushed off allegations of putting bounties on USA soldiers in Afghanistan.

The executive order on "Blocking Property with Respect to Specified, Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation", was signed by Biden on Wednesday and will be made public on Thursday morning, US officials said. These are the first new sanctions against Russian Federation during the Biden administration.

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The ministry had summoned the U.S. ambassador, she said, adding: "It's not going to be a pleasant meeting for him".

The U.S. government for the first time confirmed that a Russian-Ukrainian political operative with close ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was a "known Russian agent" who provided "sensitive" information from the campaign to Vladimir Putin's intelligence services as part of the plot to sow chaos in the 2016 presidential election.

The US government plans a new executive order to help strengthen its cybersecurity, a US official told reporters, suggesting it could include such elements as encryption and multifactor authentication.

The U.S. can't be fully confident in the assessment, because "it relies on detainee reporting", and because of the challenging operating environment in Afghanistan, according to the official.

"Given the sensitivity of this matter, which involves the safety and well-being of our forces, it is being handled through diplomatic, military and intelligence channels", the White House said. The Obama administration expelled diplomats from the United States in 2016 in response to interference in that years presidential election.

Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, described the sanctions as "proportionate measures to defend American interests in response to harmful Russian actions". "We intend these responses to be proportionate and tailored to the specific past activities, past actions that Russian Federation has taken".

One reason the rollout of these actions has taken longer than anticipated is because the White House was not satisfied with the options the State Department initially presented and wanted more expanded sanctions, a USA official familiar with the plans said.

Timothy Ash of Bluebay Asset Management said the rouble looked like it was enjoying a relief rally.

DETROW: Yeah. You really wonder what specifically they talked about and whether Biden hinted that these sanctions were coming. "No oligarchs. United States institutions cannot buy Russian sovereign debt in primary issuance but can get their Russian bank friends to buy it for them in primary, give them a fee, and then buy it in the secondary", he said.

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