The United States is set to hit Russia with a new round of sanctions for interfering in the 2020 presidential election, along with a sweeping cyberattack against American government and corporate networks across the nation.
According to Bloomberg, the sanctions are expected to be announced on Thursday and include expelling Russian diplomats from the U.S. immediately. Officials will also blacklist more than 20 Russian entities, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The business publication was the first to report the story.
Shortly after taking office, President Biden publicly promised retaliation against Russian President Vladimir Putin for the cyber attacks against the U.S. Government.
Biden saying Putin was a “killer” and that he would “pay the price” for these actions. Russia officials have denied involvement in any wrongdoing and says the U.S. intelligence community’s documentation of its 2020 election interference consisted of “baseless accusations” aiming to discredit the region’s biggest super power.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested Moscow would respond in kind to any “illegal” sanctions imposed by the U.S.
“We condemn any intentions to impose sanctions, consider them illegal, and in any case the principle of reciprocity operates in this area,” he said Thursday according to Reuters. “Russia did not want relations with Washington to be a case of “one step forward and two steps back,” he added.
The U.S. blames the Kremlin for their overreaching support of then-President Donald Trump and their role of undermining America’s democracy by using widespread disinformation in the 2020 presidential election.
According to U.S. officials, Russian intelligence services are responsible for the SolarWinds cyberattack last year, a widespread breach into several U.S. government agencies, including the State Department, along with dozens of corporations.
“This malware was created by a nation-state operative,” Fortalice Solutions CEO Theresa Payton said about the attacks. “Digital fingerprints points to Russia, but they deny the attack and always do. The malware gives them sort of super-user access, like the top administrator, if you want to look at it that way. It’s like a digital passport to go anywhere they want.”
Microsoft President Brad Smith described it as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”
On a phone call Tuesday, Biden told Putin that the United States would act “firmly” to defend its interests in response to the attacks, according to U.S. officials. The President also proposed a meeting Putin face-to-face “in a third country” where the two leaders could discuss the matter and find common ground.