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April 15, 2021

The Biden administration is preparing to announce a set of retaliatory measures against Russia on Thursday which will include sanctions and the expulsion of several Russian diplomats in response to Moscow’s alleged involvement in election interference and a massive hacking campaign that targeted several federal agencies last year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the sanction will expand existing curbs on U.S. financial institutions trading in Russian government debt by banning them from buying new bonds directly from Russia’s central bank, its finance ministry and its sovereign-wealth fund after June 14.

Washington is also set to expel several Russian diplomats based in Washington, D.C., and New York, and they will be given 30 days to leave the country, CNN reported.

According to the New York Times, Biden administration officials were initially planning to restrict their actions only in response to the SolarWinds hack, they eventually decided to tie that in with retaliations against other alleged Russian actions including election interference and the placing of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Retaliation against Russia has taken longer than expected as the White House was reportedly not satisfied with the options initially presented by the State Department and the expanded sanctions intend to impose more serious economic costs on Moscow.

President Joe Biden spoke with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday where he raised the issue of Moscow’s hacking activities, election interference and Russia’s troop buildup on Ukraine’s border and in Crimea. In a previous call that was made just after he took office, Biden confronted Putin on the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which was then followed by a round of sanctions.

Despite the retaliation, the Biden administration has expressed willingness to work with Moscow when it is in the U.S’ interest. In his call with Putin on Tuesday, Biden extended a personal invitation to the Russian president to meet in the coming months and address some of the issues face to face. Russia is yet to accept the invitation and it’s unclear if the new round of sanctions may affect that decision.

Biden has not been reluctant to call out Putin publicly and has promised strong action against Moscow for its various alleged infractions. Biden administration officials had previously said they will take a series of “seen and unseen” steps against Russia for its actions. While running as a candidate for President, Biden had expressed outrage against former president Donald Trump’s reported inaction against Russia following a CIA report that it had offered to pay bounties to militants in Afghanistan for killing American soldiers. Since taking office, Biden has made public an intelligence report on Russian election interference which said Putin had authorized major efforts to hurt Biden’s election campaign and made covert attempts to influence people close to Trump. The U.S. and its European allies have also been increasingly concerned about Russia’s troop buildup on its border with Ukraine, which the CIA director William Burns warned is large enough for a possible incursion. Along with sanctions against Russia, the Biden administration is also preparing an option on providing aid to Ukraine in the event of an attack by Russia, the Journal reported.

Source: Forbes
Image Source: Getty Images