Russia: Expert on ‘possible launch against USA and its allies’
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The USA has taken steps to prevent cyberattacks and other hostile acts from Russia this week introducing new sanctions and barring individuals. The action has prompted the Kremlin to deny these allegations and confirm it will respond in kind. People around the globe are looking to President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin to determine the significance of this move. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to explain the latest on the situation.
The USA has announced sanctions against Russia in response to what it called cyber-attacks and other hostile acts.
These targeted sanctions impact dozens of Russian entities and officials and were introduced in a bid to deter “Russia’s harmful foreign activities” according to the White House.
Mr Biden said: “We cannot allow a foreign power to interfere in our democratic process with impunity.”
The US leader said he wanted a “stable” and “predictable: relationship with President Putin.
Mr Biden called the sanctions “proportionate” action against Russia.
He added: “I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do so.
“The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia.”
The latest sanctions target 32 entities and officials accused of influence in the 2020 presidential election “and other acts of disinformation”.
Ten diplomats in total are being expelled.
An executive order will also bar US financial institutions from purchasing rouble-denominated bonds beginning in June.
The EU, Nato and the UK have all issued statements in support of the US measures.
However, in the aftermath of the US announcement, Russia has threatened to strike back at President Biden over the expelled diplomats and sanctions.
The Kremlin hit back at the announcement, vowing swift action of its own.
Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned, “a series of retaliatory measures will come in the nearest time.”
Russia denies all allegations and in a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said: “Such aggressive conduct will, of course, get a decisive response.”
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The US has published a vast amount of information about Russian intelligence activities.
This information includes naming front organisations suspected of hacking and naming individuals associated with Moscow in recent years.
The US aimed to send a signal and impose costs on Russia with the sanctions – making it harder for the country to operate as it has been doing and deter future activity.
One Russian tech company which supports the Federal Security Service (FSB), but also does work for foreign governments and international companies, stands accused of hosting “large-scale conventions that are used as recruiting events” for two Russian intelligence services.
Another IT company was accused of undertaking “research and development in support of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service’s (SVR) malicious cyber operations”.
One organisation which calls itself a “news agency” has been accused of being run by a unit of Russian military intelligence (GRU).
Individuals such as Konstantin Kilimnik, a political consultant who is accused of having a role in election interference from 2016 to 2020.
The USA, alongside its allies including the UK, also accused Russia’s SVR of being behind the SolarWinds espionage campaign.
US IT firm SolarWinds was subject to a cyberattack for several months last year.
The attack, which spread to many of the company’s clients, went undetected for months before it was reported in December.
Experts claim the Russian activity was undertaken in a targeted attempt to steal secrets.
The US claims the scale of the SolarWinds incident makes Russia a threat to national security and public safety.
Some members of Congress challenged the new measures calling them an “act of war”.
However, Washington has maintained its response that the action is “resolute but proportionate”, adding it does not have to lead to a downward spiral in relations.
Political experts do not believe these new sanctions will be significant enough to deter the Kremlin.
Daniel Fried, ex-assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said: “The issue is, how can we push back against Mr Putin’s aggression, while at the same time keeping open channels of communication and continuing to cooperate with Russia in areas of mutual interest.
“And it seems to me the Biden administration has done a pretty good job framing up the relationship in exactly this way.”
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